Saturday, January 19, 2008

VFM and other media-themed updates.

Voting started yesterday (Friday). As you may have noticed, the system being used is the archaic and inflexible WebVote hosted on the UBC Student Services site, not the new AMSLink system purchased by the AMS this year, which is still not functioning. If you tried to vote, you may also have noticed that the VFM entrants are not yet on the ballot. The VFM administrator, Paul Gibson-Tigh to explains:

VFMs are not on the online ballot as of yet, because the deadline for entering the contest was today at 4pm. We didn't want to disadvantage the last minute entrants (of which there were a few) so we couldn't complete the list until the registration period had closed. I would call it a coordination error that I guess arose because the entry form was created before the election period was determined. People will still be able to vote in the contest, even if they have voted for candidates already, so I dont think there will be any problems. I'll keep you and the other 10 entrants posted on whats coming up if this causes any problems.
So don't worry - everyone will still be able to vote for their favorite VFMs. Still, this timing is highly unfortunate. Media cannot themselves be publicized and marketed to a campus of 50 000 people in a timespan of days. In turn, I doubt VFM will succeed in fuelling increased voter turnout this year. We've learned that some last-minute entries has been submitted however. True to form though, the VFM website has yet to be updated. Another point to note is that the new voting system (Interpolated Consensus Voting) that AMS council introduced for the media contest this year can't be administered on WebVote. The system is a little hard to understand, and I was planning a fabulous explanatory post, but don't worry, you don't need to know anything about it anymore. As Matthew Naylor amusingly noted last week (in a totally different context, but still) "democracy was narrowly averted". Too bad.

Some other media notes:
The Ubyssey printed an extensive elections supplement yesterday, with profiles of all the candidates. This is great. They've barely published any analysis or real campaign coverage. This is sad. To summarize our official student newspaper's coverage: 1. an article on joke candidate names; 2. an article on one specific joke candidate (the hydrant); 3. an "analysis"/opinion piece running one presidential candidate down.

This last piece is truly unfortunate. While it's nice that the Ubyssey is trying to make it's Friday magazine more dynamic by introducing articles that are not striclty news, but have some opinion mixed in, this patricular piece was NOT labeled as such. It's a bit jarring to read a heavily angled and editorialized article you think is supposed to be news, and to suddenly encounter the first person "I". Obviously, these shouldn't take the place of actual serious reporting, which has been totally absent in the Ubyssey's pages this campaign. The Ubyssey has formed a veritable gallery of photographers and news staff at every debate - so where's the coverage? Given the mismanagement of the VFM contest, most voters that have read anything at all will probably be going to the polls on the basis of the Ubyssey's inadequate and downright skewed coverage.