Welcome to i spy strangers

March 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm 4 comments

This is the holding page for i spy strangers, a new website that will report on the proceedings of Parliament.

At present only the BBC provides comprehensive coverage of the business of the House of Commons, the Lords and the various committees.

i spy strangers is a collective of journalists, photographers and web designers who feel that there is a need for an independent, engaging and accessible record of goes on in Westminster.

It will provide daily parliamentary reports on debates, committee hearings and all the rest of the business of Parliament as well as comment, interviews and podcasts.

The site will begin publication on 20th April.

i spy strangers is a non-partisan, not-for-profit group.

If you would like more information or to express an interest in contributing, please email editor@ispystrangers.org

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FAQ:

Why is the site called i spy strangers?

Until recently, an MP could cause the House of Commons to sit in private by crying “I spy strangers,” strangers being visitors to the House.

The public galleries would be cleared and no verbatim, sound or television record of that session would be made.

Since 1998 MPs have to vote on whether or not to sit in private.

The site is called i spy strangers because it is meant to represent strangers, to report what goes on from their point of view.

Who is involved?

i spy strangers was set up by Tony Grew, until recently the editor of PinkNews.co.uk, one of the most respected gay news sites in the world.

Tony has been reporting on politics for more than three years, and has interviewed many senior Cabinet members, MPs and Lords.

A number of journalists, some still students, have signed up to work on i spy strangers.

They will perform a range of duties, from producing engaging, concise reports of Parliamentary debates to interviewing leading politicians and others who work in Parliament, producing podcasts and maintaining the site.

What does the site aim to do?

At present, the work of MPs and peers is widely under-reported. The last decade has seen an explosion of websites and blogs about British politics.

Much of it takes the form of comment and very little of it pays proper attention to what goes on in Parliament itself. Every day, important issues are discussed. Much of it goes unnoticed.

While the BBC has dedicated staff reporting from Parliament, they are constrained in the way in which they can present the information. i spy strangers wants to take a fresh approach.

The debates in both Houses and the work of committees are often enlightening, frustrating or even surreal. We aim to reflect that.

Who is the target audience?

While i spy strangers is likely to appeal to the large community of politics junkies that already browse a wide range of sites, we also hope to attract interest from people who might not think they are ‘into’ politics.

Through proper use of search optimisation techniques and other online tools, we aim to bring the content of debates and committees to the attention of a wider audience.

For example, a parent with an autistic child might be most interested to read a 500 or 1,000 word report on a Commons debate on autism, but is unlikely to seek it out from online sources such as http://www.parliament.uk unless she was aware the debate happened.

The current under-reporting of Parliament’s work means many people are unaware that MPs and peers discuss many issues that may interest them.

Is the site affiliated to a political party?

No. i spy strangers strives at all times to remain neutral.

Neutrality allows us to draw attention to conflicts or contradictions without being accused of taking sides. Our aim is to report on Parliament as it is, not as any one party wants it to appear.

Who is paying for all this?

As a not-for-profit collective, i spy strangers is in the process of seeking funding from a range of organisations concerned with public service, promoting engagement with Parliament and widening access to democracy.

The long-term aim is to establish a salaried staff to write and maintain the site.

How can I help?

i spy strangers is looking for more talented writers to join the project. We are also keen to recruit web designers and are also looking for pro-bono partners to host the site and help with its promotion.

When does it all begin?

The plan is to commence publication on 20th April 2009, the start of Parliament’s summer term.

For more information email editor@ispystrangers.org

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Entry filed under: Commons, Lords.

Information for potential contributors i spy strangers’ coverage of the House of Commons begins this week

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ex Back  |  April 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    The topic is quite hot on the Internet right now. What do you pay the most attention to while choosing what to write about?

    Reply
  • 2. Atteptogs  |  April 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    FANTASTIC!

    Reply
  • 3. balkeld  |  April 11, 2009 at 7:04 am

    formidable site this ispystrangers.wordpress.com terrific to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor đŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 4. Mnllrhpc  |  June 29, 2009 at 2:10 am

    clfSKZ comment1 ,

    Reply

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