Monday, January 30, 2012

Newspaper Sponsorship for Municipal VoterMedia #bcmuni #bcpoli

[BTW in case you missed it, got some in-depth coverage at The Tyee the other day: A Math Wiz's Idea to Revive Local Journalism]

I recently drafted this proposal -- would appreciate your comments & advice. Summary is below; full 7-page version here.

Newspaper Sponsorship for Municipal VoterMedia

This paper proposes an experiment in political media reform, in which competing newspapers would jointly sponsor a blogging contest to cover a city government and community issues. The goal is to test whether the VoterMedia design for a blog contest will generate enough public interest journalism to make it worthwhile for municipal taxpayers to fund such competitions in the future. This could become a new source of revenue supporting journalism that covers not only cities, but also other voter communities, including democracies and corporations.

To give newspapers a near-term incentive to sponsor (in addition to the long-term incentive of a potential future revenue source), the competing blogs would be required to grant the sponsors non-exclusive rights to publish their blog posts, with attribution and link-back. To simulate a taxpayer-funded competition, entry would be as open as possible, admitting any individual, group, or organization. This would include amateur bloggers and professional journalists, whether free-lance or on staff of a sponsoring (or non-sponsoring) newspaper. So for example, sponsors could enter the competition and try to win some of their money back. The contest should therefore be administered independently from the sponsors. (a nonprofit project) is offering to administer the proposed competition for free, including hosting the voting -- see for example The VoterMedia contest design has been tested and refined for the past five years at the University of British Columbia's student union, and in some municipal elections in Metro Vancouver, Canada. Experimental results at UBC are discussed by participants in video interviews at

[Complete 7-page proposal here]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New video: Expand VoterMedia to Municipal Politics #bcmuni

We just released a video: Expand VoterMedia to Municipal Politics

In it, UBC students (and a poli sci professor) discuss the idea of VoterMedia blog competitions that cover municipal governments. They have already had a positive effect on UBC student union politics -- see video How VoterMedia Affects Election Campaigns. A quote from Andrew Carne (Blogger, UBC Insiders):
You get these smaller media outlets, that actually do their own investigative work, they are able to present a different outlook on a story than the mainstream media does. So you get different opinions out there, and you may even get more facts, and information, than you do from the CBC or whoever's reporting.
We are pursuing two promising avenues for funding municipal blog contests:
  • Participatory Budgeting -- a global reform movement that lets voters allocate part of municipal budgets.
  • Sponsorship by newspaper publishers.
Here's a current muni contest ballot:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

$1,000 for UBC blogs #amselections

The University of British Columbia's Alma Mater Society is sponsoring a $1,000 VoterMedia blog contest to encourage coverage of their annual elections this month. See: