Revolution in media and politics to dominate Dublin Web Summit

21 Oct 2009

The impact of the internet on news media as well as on the political landscape as politicians take to blogging and Twittering with gusto, will be discussed by some of Europe’s leading bloggers, political masterminds and journalists in Dublin next week.

The Dublin Web Summit is the brainchild of Patrick Cosgrave, co-founder of the MiCandidate political social networking site and creator of the ‘Rock the Vote’ initiative during the last general elections.

The conference, which takes place in Dublin next Friday, 30 October, will feature major political web pundits as well as web strategists behind some of the most brilliant online political campaigns and initiatives of recent years.

These include the creator of the ‘Web Cameron’ campaign, the deputy editor of Wired Magazine and senior online editors from The Telegraph and The Independent.

Media as it changes

The conference will also look at the changing role of media and news being brought about by the Web 2.0 revolution.

Jimmy Leach, online editorial director at the, is the former head of former British prime minister Tony Blair’s digital communications operation. He oversaw the launch of the Downing Street petitions website, was director of digital at public relations agency Freud and previously worked for the Guardian‘s website,

“The roles of journalists are changing. In London, there are more than two or three daily papers, there are TV screens all over railway stations and media is pushed at you, whether it’s radio, TV, you name it. It is difficult to avoid knowing what’s happening. So the role of journalist in a major media brand isn’t one of what’s happened, it is ‘here’s what’s happening and why we should be thinking about it.’ It’s a different process and it’s about adding something of more value.”

Alberto Nardelli is the co-founder and director of, a service that uses the power of Twitter to let people follow and connect with Members of Parliament and UK politics. His work has been awarded and covered across numerous media, and he has spoken around the world on the power of social media.

“Politicians are growing up very quickly with social media in the UK. When we launched Tweetminster in December there were only four MPs with Twitter accounts, now there are 83,” Nardelli said. “Because Westminister is such a close-knit community, it has meant that word of mouth is now spreading faster than before.

“I spoke to a shadow cabinet member recently and he reads all the news in the Westminister bubble on Twitter and finds it to be a powerful tool. As a politician, being ahead of the curve is important, but so, too, is connecting people.

“I don’t think Twitter competes with journalism as analysis, but where it does compete is on the news side. It certainly makes the news cycle quicker. Not only does it break stories but the story spreads much more quickly,” Nardelli explained.

Speakers at The Dublin Web Summit

Also among the lineup of speakers at the summit next week are:

Rishi Saha, the head of the Conservative Party’s award-winning online operations. Rishi is credited as the man behind David Cameron’s online invention ‘Web Cameron’ and was also responsible for one of the UK’s most successful web virals ‘Pimp my Party’. Recently named one of London’s 1000 Most Influential People by the Evening Standard, Rishi is also a frequent media performer for the BBC and Sky.

Julian March is the executive producer of the Sky News website. Previously, he edited Sky’s breakfast show Sunrise, where he broke the news of the London bombings, and then moved on to Live at Five with Jeremy Thompson. In 2005, he won a Royal Television Society (RTS) Award for Innovation for an on-screen ticker allowing survivors of the Asian tsunami to get a message home to loved ones.

Ian Douglas is head of digital production for the Telegraph Media Group. As well as helping to turn the Telegraph from a newspaper with a website into a modern news organisation, he writes about technology, especially its role in culture, and political uses. He spent two months in a windowless room earlier this year working on MPs’ expenses.

Political blogger

Iain Dale is Britain’s leading political blogger. Iain also writes for The Spectator, the New Statesman, the House Magazine and Parliamentary Monitor, as well as contributing weekly to The Guardian’s Comment is Free. He is a newspaper reviewer for both Sky News and the BBC News Channel, and appears regularly on the BBC’s Today and Newsnight programmes.

Stephen Clark is head of web for the European Parliament. His main focus in 2009 has been on the design and delivery of the Parliament’s online communications campaign for the European elections in June 2009, both on and off the website. Stephen’s team is also responsible for the daily publication of news headlines on the Parliament’s website in 22 languages.

All Wired up

Ben Hammersley is deputy editor of Wired UK Magazine. Between 2004 and 2006, he designed, built, and maintained the weblogs of The Guardian, including Comment is Free. He has authored six technical books and programmers’ guides, including books on blogging and social media. Ben coined the term “podcasting.”

Bill Edwards is “a global leader in customer-facing government,” according to the World Bank. He was the chief architect of Directgov and is leading the development of a new online One Stop Portal for the Hong Kong government. Bill is the managing partner of the Gov3 Foundation, and a former managing director of Directgov. He is also an expert adviser to the World Bank on eGovernment.

Nick Blunden is managing director at Profero UK. Profero is the world’s leading independent digital communications group. It has 15 offices globally, including offices in London, Moscow, New York, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo. Clients include COI, Diageo, IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Lufthansa, MINI and Western Union.

EU work

Niels Thogersen is the former director of communications for the European Commission. He is the founding member of the European Communications Academy and vice-president of the Club of Venice, comprising all of the directors of communication in the governments of the 27 EU member states and the EU candidate countries. His specialist area is new media.

Benoit Thieulin was who was appointed head of new media to the French prime minister in 2001. In 2005, he was appointed by the European Commission as head of the European Information Centre. In 2007, he led the web campaign of socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal. In June 2007, Benoit and four other associates created La Netscouade.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Dublin Web Summit is the brainchild of Patrick Cosgrave, co-founder of the MiCandidate political social networking site and creator of the Rock the Vote initiative during the last general elections.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years