A lovely girl called Kayleigh asked me to do a written interview for her for a project she was doing and I wanted to put it up here, so here it is... I warn you, it's quite long:
1. What made you begin to incorporate politics into your blogs?
This is genuinely the first time I have actively thought about why I started, so thank you.
To be honest I kinda stumbled into politics. In the new year of 2008, when I had been on YouTube for about 6 months, I had done a couple of vlogs centred around education and exams (on which subjects I have strong opinions) and had also started reading the paper regularly a couple of months previously. I then did a couple of videos where I discussed articles in the paper that I thought were interesting, people seemed to enjoy them and so I began to do them regularly (I think I started doing two a week, which in retrospect was very ambitious, I now try to do one a week).
When I started with politics I had wanted to take the channel in a new direction anyway. I had grown restless being just another vlogger that occasionally did comedy skits (that to be honest weren’t very good). I didn’t feel like I got a lot back from it. I mean, I got feedback, but it wasn’t very constructive. I would receive comments saying either “You’re awesome” or “Shut Up!” Now I have this kind of discussion thing going I get to chat and debate with my viewers and they always have interesting things to say. I get to learn new things and see things from other people’s perspectives. I really get a kick when people message me saying that I have sparked a new found interest in current events and politics and have made them care about the world around them. That’s nice, probably the reason I am still doing this over a year on.
2. Do you select the stories you discuss based on your own political views, or on what you see as an important story to a wider audience?
At the beginning it was definitely centred around what I was interested in, mainly the UK education system and some science stories. I have now branched out. I’ve covered Tibet, the Olympics, sex, immigration, patriotism. Now a days I definitely pick my stories based on what I think will stimulate a good discussion in terms of getting feedback from a lot of different viewpoints. For example my last “Selling your Virginity” story. I had been waiting to talk about that because I knew there would be huge spectrum of opinions. I also deliberately try not to do too many discussions based around the same topic around the same time. So if I have covered education for the past two videos I will deliberately choose a new fresher topic. I am very conscious I have an audience, they are why I do this.
3. Do you feel that the way that you conduct news style vlogs differs in any way from the way you do "ordinary" vlogs?
There is definitely a huge difference. For one my political vlogs are scripted, whereas with a normal vlog I will just have some bullet points I want to talk about or sometimes I even just switch the camera on and blab, although I haven’t done that in a while. My political vlogs are also much shorter and snappier in terms of editing. It is very normal for my normal vlogs to hit the ten minute mark with only a couple of cuts where most of my news ones rarely pass 3 minutes and are heavily edited. In the news vlogs I also try to have a consistent background, where the regular ones I will quite often sit on the floor or in my bed, they are much more relaxed.
4. How does your news-telling differ between your written and video blogs?
Not a lot, I have often thought that the few political blogs I have written could easily just be the scripts to a video. This is just how I write though. I have never excelled with writing, I have always been much more of a verbal person, hence why I had a vlog on YouTube way before I started writing on a blog.
5. How does your audience react to your news blogs?
I ask for their opinions on the story and generally they will happily give them. Without my viewers the current format I have on my channel would have little point as the interesting stuff happens in the comments with people debating with me and between them-selves. I like to think they watch me because they enjoy talking about the stuff I bring to the table. In short, I do hope they enjoy them.
6. Do you think that blogging is a good way to deliver stories regarding current affairs? That is do you think people are more likely to read your blog and believe what you say because you are 'just like them'?
I certainly don’t think it is or should be the only way for people to get their information on the world. In a 3 minute video I can come nowhere near to the accuracy and quality of content as say, BBC News. I definitely believe there is a market for it though in terms of the fact that, yes, I am not just some drone reading off an auto cue (although it is scripted they are my own words, and I am much more casual) and that I offer up my opinions. So yes I do think people like watching me because they can relate to me better than your average anchor. I think because they have a dialogue with me they are more likely to value my opinion more than some guy in a suite on the TV. I also have the advantage of having a dialogue and instant feedback with my viewers, which people like Sky News and BBCNews couldn’t even dream of at the moment. Not that I am trying to compare myself to media moguls like BSkyB and the BBC. ;)
7. Do you use any blogs to get information on current affairs?
Yes but I do tend to watch and read them more for the way they are presented then the content. I still consider the daily paper and Radio 4 my main sources of current affairs. Although I always enjoy seeing what people like gnooze, the resident and politico have to say about what is happening in the world. A site I do use to get stories though is Digg.com, as well as of course the BBC website and any links my subscribers send me.
8. What are your feeling on YouTube creating a News & Politics genre for videos? DO you feel that the increase of news blogs has made this happen?
I certainly don’t think YouTube would have created the genre unless there was a demand for it. And the political content on YouTube is huge at the moment, from Obama Girl to Politico. And especially in the face of the US general elections. Internet video has played a huge roll in the election and I am really excited to see how that will continue in the future. This media provides a two way dialogue that has been missing from politics and any politician would be silly not to use this to his advantage. I mean, just look at Obama to see the results.