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July 2008

Let the People be the Judge!

Antonio Lambino's picture

It was in Manila last week where I came across a banner headline on a major broadsheet that read “The people, not surveys, should judge (the president’s) performance."  I was confused.  Aren't people’s attitudes, opinions, and intentions precisely what surveys seek to measure?  Aren’t surveys, in fact, meant to reflect the will and preferences of the people?

When surveys are done well and conscientiously, they provide valuable information from which we can derive knowledge helpful toward understanding people's opinions, especially on matters of public interest.  Applying public opinion research techniques can also aid in improving the quality of democratic governance, particularly in coming to more informed decisions that more closely reflect citizen preferences (e.g., James S. Fishkin’s chapter in Governance Reform under Real-World Conditions).

The Technocrat and the Reporter

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In a previous job, I was asked to organize media training for senior technocrats in international development who would, in the course of their jobs, have to face the media from time to time to answers questions about their areas of responsibility. As I set about doing a learning needs assessment and organizing the training, I noticed a dynamic I had not reflected on before.

Indirect Media Effects: The Unknown Quantity in Policy Making

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Photo Credit: Flickr User queenkvWhen you're advocating for a better understanding of the media's role in policy making and governance reform, nothing is as disheartening as a well done study that questions the media's role on the basis of sound evidence.

The Brass Tacks of Building Citizen Centered Policies and Services

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Lubljana: location for the International Workshop On Building Citizen Centred Policies And Services (Photo Credit: Flickr User StrudelMonkey)Almost everywhere, political leaders don't work with the strange animal known as 'the Public'. They work with 'key stakeholders' when they have to.  And they prefer to decide a policy then 'consult' key stakeholders.

Not "Only Radio"

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Photo Credit: Flickr User verhoogen.beIn the developed world, radio is a more or less dying medium. In the age of iPods, who needs to switch on a radio to listen to music? Much less to listen to political talk, which you get anywhere from your local newspaper (preferably online) to cable television (also online, of course).

Political Cartoons and the Millennium Development Goals

Antonio Lambino's picture

Most editorial cartoons make a forceful point in a playful manner.  I think the artful combination of wit and cheeky criticism explains their popular appeal and potential effectiveness, but also hints at a possible limitation.  Historical studies of political cartoons (see Backer, 1996 and Neiman Reports, 2004) describe the ways in which Martin Luther in the 16th century, Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, and people like Thomas Nast and Herb Block in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively, satirized the political economies of their day through illustration.

Faith-Based Deliberation? Preliminary Evidence from California

Taeku Lee's picture

Photo Credit: AmericaSpeaksMohandas Gandhi once declared, in his inimicably insightful and economical manner that “those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”  The same could be said, in obverse, of politics vis-à-vis religion.  We often bemoan the paucity of concrete policy debates in an election or lampoon incumbent presidents for declaring

Defining the Public Sphere (in 3 Paragraphs!)

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The Agora of the Competaliastae: Ancient Greek agoras are the classic archetype of an open and democratic public sphere (photo credits: flickr user wallyg)Having spent a considerable part of my professional and academic life thinking and writing about the public sphere, it still amazes me how nebulous this concept is, and how difficult it is to be clear about what we mean when we talk about "the public sphere.&qu