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    16 October, 2006

    Welsh Blogging

    The entry of a real Welsh Tory Assembly blogger into the fray has made the Welsh blogging world more interesting. For a Tory he's witty and readable as well. And he gives the game away on the Opposition plotting. He can't spell 'leader' though, which is maybe why he isn't.

    I started my weblog about eighteen months ago: somewhat uncertainly and hesitantly. I’d had a website but it wasn’t exactly interactive and it was a pain to update. In the early days, I blogged on a lot of different subjects, all in the same place. I noticed that the Tory and Lib Dem bloggers seemed more coordinated than the Labour bloggers, and helped to spark off Bloggers4Labour. Now there is also Labourhome.

    The old blog became a useful campaigning tool when Cardiff City were in trouble.

    Six months in, I decided to scrap my website and to blog instead, separating my constituency blogging from my general political and other commentary. I switched from blogger to typepad at the same time, and started Rhondda Today as the constituency blog running alongside my general blog.

    For six months or so I also maintained a blog called Blogging the Beeb as part of the background research for a book I am writing.

    Earlier this year, my Labour Assembly colleague Alun Pugh started his own blog. It covers Alun’s constituency and Ministerial work and is more like Rhondda Today than this blog.

    There is one clear difference between those bloggers who represent constituencies and those who are regional members: for constituency members, the constituency side is more important than the general political commentary, and that shows in our posts. It is also true of councillors who blog.

    Regional list members will focus less on local issues. Glyn Davies has followed Peter Black in providing something of a running commentary on the Assembly plenary sessions. (Given the lack of written media coverage of the Assembly, that’s perhaps not surprising).

    Being in opposition also gives bloggers more freedom and scope. There is an imposed self-discipline being a member of a party in government. You are always conscious that anything written here is public: in that sense it is unlike a diary.

    Welsh Labour bloggers who are not elected representatives also have a bit more freedom. Some use it for extensive political commentary, like Rob Newman and Lee Gregory. Others will use it for baiting the opposition and campaigning on a variety of different issues, like Martin Eaglestone, who also has a strange taste in football, Sophie Howe, and the best-named Welsh blogger young Luke ‘live from the socialist fortress’.

    Other interesting Welsh political bloggers include….

    Media bloggers have also come onto the scene. First there was David Cornock, Then came David Banks. Now the Western Mail group appears to be encouraging its writers to blog, so we have Tom Livingstone and Matt Withers, Daniel Davies of the Press Association also joins in.

    And not forgetting the Senior Policemen's Blog.

    Blogging has been adopted by Welsh-speakers too. Gwenu dan Fysiau is the Welsh language blog I read most, and it has good links to others. The net has provided a new forum for the Welsh language, and it is good to see how it has been taken forward. People have also used their skills to adapt the existing software to the Welsh language, so that you can leave sylwadau instead of comments. Tomos Grace had a good article on the Welsh language and the internet.

    Recently, I have started to use video. We launched Rhondda TV as an online TV station: the idea was twofold, really: putting the Rhondda on the map and communicating what I am doing as the Rhondda’s Assembly Member in a more up to date way. It’s rough and ready and there is a long way to go. We have upgraded our technology but if our video quality is to improve we are going to need to stream from our own server rather than going through Google, I think. I know other AMs are interested in what we are doing with video and I expect others will follow suit.

    The blogging world also opened up contact with other people on the left who did not take the orthodox metropolitan liberal-left view on every issue, such as Normblog and Harry’s Place. A good thing.

    However, I have noticed over the last six months that my consumption of other blogs has gone down. I can’t remember when I last looked at Bloglines, my news aggregator. There just isn’t the time.

    Rhondda TV
    The Labour Party

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.