Thursday, 30 December 2010

Planning The New Year

New Year PlanningAT THIS TIME, last year, I was bemoaning the fact that I had been unable to close the Spink file and that that MP’s name was to haunt my Christmas celebrations during 2009. Fortunately, I was able to close that file five months into the New Year,  when Castle Point’s new MP, Rebecca Harris, defeated the odious Bob Spink in the General Election last May.

With Spink’s shade put to rest, I was finally able to clear my desk this year (as I normally do) in preparation for 2011. During 2010 I had written a number of pieces about Canvey Island’s Dave Blackwell; but they had all been finished to my satisfaction. The facts had been published; the speculation supported; and the stories had been put to bed.

It is actually 20 months since I first launched the Canvey Beat, and just six months since I moved it from its original WordPress host to Google’s Blogger – and the results are better than anticipated. The Canvey Beat has virtually doubled its audience since the move.

BlogSpot has enabled me to construct a homepage, which readers have a good reason to visit – even when I have not provided a new post – and that has enabled me to begin planning the Canvey Beat’s content rather than just reacting to poor Echo political reporting, or publishing significant local news, in order to retain readers. Its new statistics have encouraged me to devote more of my time, this coming year, to its production – and I have set aside the first four months of 2011 to providing in-depth coverage of the island as it anticipates its first Town Council elections (since being established in 2008).

Canvey Island is composed of six local wards and I will be focussing on each, in the lead-up to the Town Council elections on May 6th, in the form of an ‘On The Record’ live debate, which I will broadcast on consecutive Friday and Saturday evenings, for a three week period, at around 7pm.

Local candidates will be invited onto a debate’s panel and, after a five-minute statement from each, questions will be put from the Blog’s visitors and myself (from a selection of those emailed to me prior to the event).

The beauty of live blogging, from a journalistic perspective, is that the whole event becomes on-the-record material that can be read in detail by future guests and other reporters – or summarised in follow-up pieces for the benefit of those whom were unable to attend. Moreover, by covering each individual ward, residents will have a powerful resource for deciding which candidate to vote for locally.

Castle Point Borough Council is composed of 14 wards (including the six on Canvey) and, during the remainder of the year, I hope to turn my attention to researching those remaining districts, as time allows, to be ready for the 2012 local elections (which take place every year in this borough).

I have yet to decide the best way of incorporating 14 live debates in the Canvey Beat’s schedule prior to local elections; but I hope to have a better view on that after conducting the six I have planned for 2011.

I must admit that the prospect of squeezing 14 live debates into just three weeks is a little daunting (and I worry that I will not be able to devote that amount of time, in such a short window, to the project). But the mist will no doubt clear as time goes on…

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