G20: Bloggers To Step Up To The Plate?

The G20 meeting — the annual meeting of finance ministers and bank governors of the world’s top 20 economies — is to be held in London this year, more specifically in April.

It will no doubt be attended by the standard media types, the standard politicos and so on. Precisely the sort of thing I generally complain about — that “ordinary people” are excluded and disenfranchised because they are kept out of the loop, never given a chance to see what is actually going on, and because the traditional media establishment are considered “press” but bloggers are not, so bloggers do not actually get given a chance to attend this sort of thing.

Only this year, it’s different.

This year, bloggers are being allowed — even actively encouraged — to take part. The official London site specifically mentions something called G20 voice.

G20Voice is giving bloggers the chance to participate in the debate in the lead up to the London Summit. And they are inviting 50 bloggers to attend the London Summit where they will get unprecedented access to world leaders and thinkers and the chance to ask questions about the issues important to them.London Summit: Join The Debate

If I’m reading this correctly, ordinary people are getting the opportunity to actually talk to, put questions to, and report about our politicians. This strikes me as being precisely the sort of thing which will help encourage political engagement — in short, a bloody fantastic idea.

When I mentioned this on Facebook, I was asked whether I had “got any green stuff in a cup you can throw”. As I replied at the time, I think that disenfranchisement is precisely why people feel the need to throw green custard — because they don’t see how else they can be invited to take part in the political process, how else they can get anyone to listen to them. And this is an opportunity for precisely that.

Which is why I think the blogging community must grasp this idea, must show a willingness to take part, and show not only that we can cover such an event in an appropriate manner. This is our opportunity to show the ‘traditional’ media that, given the chance, we can give them a damn good run for their money.

The G20 voice can be found on Facebook and on Twitter, as well as having a web presence.

They talk specifically about who they would like to attend:

We are inviting 50 influential and knowledgeable bloggers from around the world [...]

We are planning to invite

  • 15 bloggers from the developing world
  • 10 bloggers focused on poverty reduction
  • 10 bloggers focused on climate change
  • 1 bloggers from each of the G20 countries
  • 10 high profile and eclectic bloggers

G20 Voice: Bloggers

Ah, bugger. That’s me out then. I probably do count as eclectic, but I suspect I that I would fall short on the ‘high-profile’ front, and that’s before we even get to ‘knowledgeable’. If only they were looking for ‘piss-taking Geordies with a conversational style and an interest in political engagement’, I’d be perfect. Unfortunately, these criteria don’t appear to get a look-in. That’s a shame, as I think it would be a fantastic opportunity, and an absolutely brilliant thing to get the chance to blog about — even though it clashes with the Newcastle Beer Festival.

But it’s more important than trying to inflate my ego (don’t sound so bloody surprised!): this is about giving bloggers the chance to meet and ask questions of the people who control the finances of the world’s biggest nations. This is an opportunity too large for the blogging community to ignore. We simply have to take part.

I would therefore urge you all to get in touch with the G20 Voice site, and nominate a blogger. I’d love to see an ordinary person given the chance to take part. I want to see ordinary people being given the opportunity to take a more active role in this sort of process: being given this sort of access. Just because someone isn’t famous doesn’t mean that what they have to say is any less important.

However, the G20 voice requires that, if they aren’t in one of the specific categories, that they need to have at least a certain profile. So be it: but let’s look for people in that profile who we see as being ordinary people, people with ordinary jobs and ordinary lives. Let’s have some people who can represent “the working man or woman”. Let’s go for someone who we think will cover it well, ask interesting questions, and accurately represent the rest of us, as opposed to people who are starting with some sort of ideological axe to grind.

So please, if you know a blogger who fits one of the above categories, then nominate them. And leave a comment here too: I’d like to see who you’re voting for. Oh, and while we’re on, let’s take the opportunity to remind the world that bloggers aren’t just the ‘geek in the bedroom’ that one of my Facebook correspondents believes…

7 Responses to “G20: Bloggers To Step Up To The Plate?”

  1. Cole Henley responds:

    A quick glance at the meta keywords on the London Summit website [1] reveals G20’s motivation for opening things up to the blogosphere:

    “comic relief, save the children”


    [1] and what self-respecting web designer doesn’t take a sneaky peak under the hood of government websites

  2. JackP responds:

    I think G20 Voice is headed up by Oxfam (and is presumably therefore a coalition of charities?), but frankly I’m not too bothered about who is behind it; it’s the opportunity for blogger participation that I think is exciting.

  3. Shane McCracken responds:

    The partners behind G20Voice are OxfamGB, Comic Relief, Save the Children, Blue State Digital and ONE. We’ve strong govt support from DFID and FCO.

    Those partners have a strong interest in ending poverty and climate change, but it is down to the bloggers who attend to decide their agenda.

  4. Simon Berry responds:

    I like the way G20voice have allocated the places otherwise it would be just the well connected that would get in (like us!). Having said that I very much hoping we can get ColaLife there!

  5. JackP responds:

    yeah, I think it’s good to get as wide a mix there as possible — ColaLife would indeed be good to see represented — and it’s fair to say that the way G20 voice have set about doing it is too ensure that there will be a mix.

    Also, while I can perfectly understand the need for bloggers to have to have a certain ‘profile’ before being involved — because that way they are most likely to get read, well reported etc — I think it’s a shame that there’s not a couple of spaces for ‘ordinary Joe’.

    Partly for selfish reasons — as I’ve said, I think it would have been a fun thing to do — and partly because I’d just like to see someone who isn’t already “famous” in the blogging world or, as you say, well-connected, to be given this sort of opportunity.

    I’ve asked @G20voice on twitter if there’s an opportunity to see which bloggers are going, comment on them and so on, because this provides a mechanism for the rest of us not only to see who will be representing us all, but to talk to those bloggers and tell them the sort of things we’d like them to ask/report on.

    Like I’ve said, it’s a brilliant idea, and one that I hope is extended by the people behind it to future events. So please, get nominating!

  6. Miles Tone responds:

    JackP, just out of interest - have you nominated anyone to blog?

  7. JackP responds:

    Yeah, I added my vote for colalife, who are officially in now.

    If you look at @G20voice, you can see who is “in” so far, although they say there have been 200 nominations. But if there’s someone you like, nominate ‘em!

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