Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UBC AMS VFM voting results

Last Wednesday (Feb 4) we counted the votes in the third annual University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society Voter Funded Media competition. As in 2007 and 2008, UBC students voted on VFM as part of the AMS council election. The competing media concentrated mainly on covering the election candidates. In 2007 and 2008, I donated $8000 for the awards; in 2009, the $8000 came from AMS funds, i.e. student fees.

It's interesting to compare the results, summarized here:

Last year I posted this discussion comparing 2008 and 2007 results. Here's my update for 2009:

(BTW I don't consider myself an expert on UBC student politics, so these are just my opinions -- please add your comments! Also keep in mind that our analysis is only based on a limited sample of experience with VFM so far.)

Now that the media-to-voters-to-media feedback loop has gone through another year's iteration, it seems to be homing in on the serious electoral campaign coverage that we designed VFM for. Media name recognition and reputation are rewarded less than before; current content is rewarded more.

For example The Underground and The 432, known more for their years of newspaper publication than for depth of election coverage, dropped from combined winnings of $2,600 in 2007 to $1,200 in 2008, then did not even enter VFM in 2009. Long term VFM heavyweights The Knoll and UBC Insiders, which I expected to dominate again in 2009, instead fell to 4th and 5th place behind two new media (Spectator and Student Media) plus the resurgent Radical Beer Tribune, all with plenty of serious info on the election campaign.

This is all consistent with a trend of voters using the competing media more and more to help inform their voting decision process. Not only was the election turnout the highest in 22 years, but also participation in the VFM vote itself was almost double its previous peak -- 3,820 in 2009 versus an estimated 2,000 in 2007.

The apparent success of UBC's annual VFM comes in spite of its perennially late launch -- opened for entry about January 15 in 2009, January 7 in 2008, and early January in 2007, instead of about September as I and the VFM Committee have advocated. The VFM administrators get hired too late, but fortunately have been capable and energetic in implementing this complex new process. (BTW Condorcet voting for the 2009 AMS exec election was another great innovation.)

Is VFM worth $8000 to UBC students? Of course I'm biased toward "yes". Not only does it help voting decisions, but media coverage doesn't end with the election. E.g. as I write this, VFM blogs are the venue for a vigorous cross-linked debate on the Elections Committee's decision to disqualify the winning presidential candidate.

Our experiments, designs, plans and implementations continue toward a Global Voter Media Platform to support pubic interest media in all voting communities year-round.

Thank you all VFM participants: AMS council, planners, administrators, media and voters! And congratulations to the media award winners...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

B.C. Politics blog ranking updated

Today I did the monthly update of the British Columbia Politics Blog Ranking ballot. The top three -- The Tyee, Stephen Rees and Frances Bula -- held their positions, but after that it was a free-for-all.

Thanks you all participants -- media, voters and commenters. I haven't added any new blogs because we're building an automated website to replace this ballot, and expand it to many more voting communities -- see Global Voter Media Platform.