Citizen journalists to keep count on election results


23 May 2007

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Prominent politics blog IrishElection.com is to deploy an army of bloggers tomorrow and Friday across the 43 constituencies to report on Ireland’s polling day.

The bloggers will keep the count on Friday and update the nations with the rumours, the drama, the tears and the laughter using a variety of technologies from text to podcasts.

IrishElection.com’s Cian O’Flaherty told siliconrepublic.com that the site is partnering with Irish telecoms provider MySay.com to allow the roving reporters to phone in their reports to a special phone number that will process the call and upload it to the web.

At the time of writing, 30 of Ireland’s 43 constituencies were covered by volunteers. “I’m confident by the end of the day Wednesday all the constituencies will be covered.”

“The MySay.com aspect will work in such a way that if someone phones in a report the online visitor can stream a podcast and hear the latest rumours.

“We started putting out feelers for people to go to the counts and the drip started in Dublin and Leinster and now we have people going along in Galway, Limerick and Roscommon.”

Election day will begin with the first data being filed from the polling stations and between IrishElection.com’s base will serve as the nerve centre for on the move coverage.

As counting gets under way the counts will no doubt be the scene for much rumour and drama and by six o’clock on Friday IrishElection.com’s contributors and staff will convene at the Teacher’s Club in Parnell Street to capture the last dramatic moments of the Friday count.

“We set this site up really for the elections and it’s been a real challenge over the past few months but also a thrill to see the momentum that’s been generated. The idea of convening at the Teacher’s Club is to give something back to all the bloggers who’ve been a part of the site over the past few months. At this stage I feel we’ve got some of the best minds contributing to IrishElection.com for free.”

As well as the MySay.com technology, IrishElection.com will have a special shortcode text number where any text message sent to the number will be uploaded to a live election “gossip wall”.

In addition, IrishElection.com will send text updates to anyone who subscribes to their free text service.

Asked what IrishElection.com will do after the election, O’Flaherty said that a good idea would be to keep measuring if the new incumbents at Leinster House will deliver on their election promises.

“It’s all about accountability,” he concluded.

By John Kennedy