'Democratic Deficit' Concerns on Assembly Media Coverage; How Wales Appears on the World and UK Stage in the Media Is a Pressing Concern, Says National Assembly Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler. as She Prepares to Introduce the Royal Television Society's Annual Welsh Lecture Today, She Here Raises Fears of a 'Democratic Deficit' in Coverage of the Assembly, and Offers Solutions
IT'S hard to believe that a year has passed since I outlined my concerns about what I have called, and others agree, the "democratic deficit".
I believe it is one of the most profound problems facing the devolution process in Wales and a problem that continues to cause me concern.
By "democratic deficit", I mean who is relaying, or perhaps more importantly, who will be relaying the work of the National Assembly to the people of Wales in the future and performing that crucial role of holding us, the decision-makers, here in Cardiff Bay to account? Presiding >Rosermary We have a UK media, both broadcasters and print, which fails to report the huge differences in approach to public policy in devolved fields such as health and education.
It means their substantial Welsh audiences often get information that doesn't apply to them.
Research by Professor Anthony King and Cardiff University's School of Journalism highlighted the fact that some of our leading UK broadcasters often default to an Anglocentric position, a position which promotes policy issues affecting only England as though they apply to the whole of the UK.
Professor King's original report was published in 2008, and at the RTS annual lecture last year he noted that despite efforts by broadcasters, the problem persists.
Officer Butler The situation is compounded by the financial pressures faced by our indigenous Welsh national and regional press, which leaves many unable to resource comprehensive coverage of Assembly news. Apart from the Western Mail and its sister paper, the North Wales Daily Post, no other Welsh newspaper has a reporter based at the Assembly, and therefore cannot scrutinise the laws that we make, that directly affect their readers.
At last year's RTS annual Welsh lecture, I committed to holding a series of sessions in the Pierhead in an attempt to start a discussion about the issue and to possibly find solutions.
In May, we had a fascinating session with a panel of leading UK journalists including Kevin Maguire, Peter Riddell and Peter Knowles - which was chaired by former head of global news at the BBC, Richard Sambrook.
I don't accept the headline assertion of the UK media that all our debates here are "boring", any more than I'd say all those in Westminster are interesting.
Our debate on organ donation was as wise, profound and important as anything you'll hear in any parliament this year, and will have a major impact on people's lives in Wales and across the UK. …