For some years now, I have been frustrated at the lack of media reporting delivered from the National Union of Students‘ annual policy-making conference. This important event, which sees around 1,000 delegates from higher and further education convene in Blackpool, is free to delegates but attracts a ‘media’/observer charge in excess of £300.
While this is reasonable in the context of the overall cost of the conference – which is free to attend for student unions – it makes it difficult for poorly-funded unions and those with competing priorities for ‘student-involvement’ funds, to send dedicated reporters. This means the reporter often has to get involved in the student union election process and be part of the delegation that represents their union at the conference. Arguably, this can affect the quality of reporting by virtue of that person’s involvement.
Thankfully, blogging, mobile technology and now, of course, Twitter, means information is getting out from conference a lot quicker. Of course, there’s always been Educationet – probably the first, almost totally open online forum for student politics – but what useful information appeared here at conference was often drowned out by the muck that one had to wade through. Also, mobile Internet and WiFi hotspots were particularly lacking in Blackpool until the last couple of years.
Since I first attended in 2004, the number of blogs about NUS conference has increased dramatically. And last year (2008), for the first time, @ednet tried to provide live Twitter updates from the conference to those receiving texts on their mobiles (including those on Conference floor) – but from a single person’s perspective, it’s not possible to get a feel for the whole event. Still, the feed was good enough to be picked up by CGCU Live! and placed on their front page.
Now, with the explosion in Twitter use, there are a number of people – staff and delegates – who updating from the event and I’m going to make an effort to list them all here. There’s a surprising number and hopefully they’ll all use the tag #nusconf to record their tweets!
@benjaminfgray Benjamin Gray – KCLSU – Block of 15 candidate
@wesstreeting Wes Streeting – NUS President – standing for re-election
@davelewistwit Dave Lewis – NUS National Treasurer – leaving this year
@fabulosity1 Ama Uzowuru – NUS Vice-President Welfare – leaving this year
@aaronporter Aaron Porter – NUS Vice-President Education – standing for re-election
@lincolnSU Lincoln Student Union, tweeting live for their students (++good – he’s also @danderricott)
@ray_sacks Ray Sacks – General Secretary St George’s Student Union
@willonline Will Watson – Associate President Education at Leeds Metropolitan Students’ Union
@tomstubbs – NUS National Executive – leaving this year
@stephanielloyd1 – unknown!
@kazarhoosh – Kaveh Azarhoosh – chair of Hull University Labour Club
@deancarlin – Dean Carlin – from Edinburgh
@AndyButtons – Andy Button-Stephens – from Cardiff
@leemacaulay – Lee Macauley – journalism student from Cardiff
@SamKnight – Sam Knight – Cardiff student blogger
@BenBryant – Ben Bryant – ‘Head of Student Media’ at Cardiff
@danielgrabiner – Daniel Grabiner – no idea though!
@rhysdart – Rhys Dart – Cardiff student
@worldofjr – Andy Hartley – VP Welfare at Manchester Metropolitan Students Union.
@pchiarella – Phillipe Giovanni Chiarella – London Metropolitan Students Union
@solomonsmfield – Clare Solomon – School of Oriental and African Studies
@rowleypolybird – Kate Rowley – University College London Union
Non-delegates but tweeting
@viclanger – NUS
@NUSHigherEdZone – NUS Higher Education debating zone
@edframe – NUS
@XChangeERS – unknown
@gemmatumelty – Gemma Tumelty – former NUS National President
@ednet – sort of unofficial Educationet.org feed – possibly the nearest thing to a crowd-sourced student media agency, but with minimal filtering.
@drewstearne – Drew J. Stearne ‘official NUS photographer’ (probably employed after I got annoyed with having my photos got ripped off one year)
@roryl – Rory Lawless – student political blogger
@parboo – Jaki Booth – Birmingham City SU staffer
@technicalfault – me – recovering student politician and digital communications producer.
Wow. That’s plenty for a Twitter caucus!
Please leave a comment or tweet me @technicalfault.