Leighton Andrews to head up Digital News and Information Taskforce

Published 04/11/2016   |   Last Updated 04/11/2016

Leighton Andrews will chair the Llywydd's Digital News and Information Taskforce.

At the National Eisteddfod in August, the National Assembly's Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, signalled her intention to invite experts from the field of digital communications to form a taskforce to recommend ways in which the Assembly can deliver engaging and accessible news and information about the legislature's work.

Mr Andrews, who was recently appointed to the role of Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation with Cardiff University's Business School, has now agreed to chair the group.

"How do we communicate the work of the National Assembly to a wider audience in Wales?" said Mr Andrews.

"People opt to get their news through a much more diverse series of routes. Some now get their news only from Facebook. More and more people choose to live their lives increasingly through digital and online communities, ignoring traditional media and news channels.

"The era where political institutions could rely on the mainstream print and broadcast media to maximise the reach of their message is under challenge. Mainstream media remains an important feature of our democracy, but increasingly bodies such as the National Assembly will need to package and push their content directly to the platforms that audiences are consuming.

"How to reach those audiences and what sort of content they want to consume will be fundamental questions that this task force will seek to address over the coming months.

"It is a challenge that the Assembly must meet if it is to remain an open, transparent and outgoing institution for the people of Wales."

The other members of the taskforce are:

  • Cath Allen – Board Member of BBC Wales and former BBC Journalist
  • James Downes – Head of Product at Companies House
  • Ifan Morgan Jones - Lecturer in Journalism at the School of Creative Studies and Media, Prifysgol Bangor University
  • Valerie Livingston - Runs political information company, newsdirect wales
  • Hannah Mathias - Learning Technology and Resources expert
  • Emma Meese – Cardiff University's Centre for Community Journalism
  • Gareth Rees - Software Developer at MySociety
  • Iain Tweedale – Head of Online and Learning at BBC Wales
  • Andy Williamson – founded research and consultancy practice Future Digital

The Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, said: "I am pleased that Leighton has agreed to head up this important piece of work.

"He brings a wealth of experience, not only as a former Assembly Member and Minister, but also in terms of political and government communications and through his previous role at Cardiff University's School of Journalism, Media and Culture.

"We are witnessing a revolution in people's expectations about the services provided by news and information sources.

"We can't ignore the pressures that conventional Welsh media outlets are facing and the impact that is having in terms of informing the people of Wales about the work of the National Assembly. Our own Senedd.tv and other communication platforms need a refresh. We can turn this media deficit into an opportunity to design our own means of communicating and interacting with the people of Wales, using all kinds of new technology and social media. We can take best practice from other parliaments and organisations and get the most innovative minds to help us plan for this work. 

"This challenge is not unique to the Assembly – it is a continuing challenge for the third sector, the private sector and the public sector, too. To ensure a strong voice and identity for our work, we must draw from the expertise and experience of innovative institutions and individuals in the field."

"I look forward to hearing some exciting recommendations from Leighton and his colleagues."

The taskforce is expected to publish its findings by Easter 2017.

Leighton Andrews Biography:

  • Parliamentary Officer Age Concern, 1982–84
  • UK Campaign Director, UN International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, 1984–87
  • Public Affairs Consultant, 1988-1993 and 1997–2001
  • Head of Public Affairs for the BBC from 1993–96. Based in London, he was responsible for the BBC's relations with the UK Parliament and with the EU institutions.
  • Lecturer at Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, immediately prior to his election to the National Assembly.

Political Career:

  • 2003 - 2016 Assembly Member for Rhondda
  • 2009 – 2013 Minister for Education and Skills
  • 2014 – 2016 Minister for Public Services

Membership biographies:

Cath Allen
Cath has 27 years' experience in several roles at the BBC and is a former Board Member for BBC Cymru Wales and former Managing Editor of the BBC Wales political unit. She now runs Cath Allen Associates.
James Downes
James is Head of Product at Companies House. He has been deeply involved in the strategy, design, development, delivery and continual improvement of digital products and services for over 18 years and has delivered transformative digital projects in central government, charity, finance, membership, heritage, education and automotive sectors.
Ifan Morgan Jones
Before joining the School of Creative Studies and Media in September 2012, Ifan worked as a reporter and then deputy editor of Golwg Magazine, before becoming the editor of the Golwg 360 news website. He is currently researching the effect of communication technology on the Welsh language, with special attention paid to the periodical press in the 19th century and the digital revolution in the present day. 
Valerie Livingston
Valerie is a public affairs professional and small business owner with extensive media expertise. She founded her own political research company in 2011. The company, newsdirect wales, reports on developments in the National Assembly and provides policy briefings to a wide range of private, public and voluntary sector clients. Prior to launching the company, Valerie was a senior press officer for the SNP at Westminster. She has also spent time working in the Scottish and European Parliaments and on several election campaigns. More recently, she has been a regular political commentator appearing on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. 
Hannah Mathias
Hannah is a Learning Technology and Resources expert and E-Learning Manager at Cardiff and Vale College. Building and implementing Moodle and SharePoint 2010 systems. Her specialties are Learning Technologies; eResources; Social Media; Mobile Technologies; Video editing; audio editing; HTML; SharePoint architecture; Moodle administration and design, and Web 2.0.

Emma Meese 
Emma Meese manages Cardiff University's Centre for Community Journalism (@C4CJ), a unique fusion of research and practice committed to developing a strong network of hyperlocal and community journalism in Wales. She is also running a series of short courses at Cardiff, giving everyone access to the highest standard of training in digital and social media. Emma also speaks at a number of conferences and events, including the Social Media Conference for Wales.
Gareth Rees
Gareth is a Software Developer at MySociety. He is currently working on Alaveteli – an open-source platform for making public Freedom of Information requests. He worked on applications for Box UK, World Vision, Cardiff University Students' Union, The Wales Trades Union Congress and Havering Fabian Society. He founded and runs cardiffrb, a monthly meet up for Ruby programmers in Cardiff. He also created Cardiff Collective as a place for entrepreneurs in Cardiff to connect and share knowledge and works with Sam Knight to open Welsh politics with Your Senedd.
Iain Tweedale
Iain is a digital entrepreneur, has worked at the BBC as Head of Online and Learning in Wales, and has held senior international roles at IBM and Sonera. At BBC Wales he was responsible for the Wales edition of bbc.co.uk across all connected platforms. His team also produced content for brands such as Doctor Who, Sherlock and Crimewatch. As Head of Learning at BBC Wales, he was responsible for curriculum-related content such as BBC Bitesize, through to archive development for education.
Andy Williamson
Dr Andy Williamson works globally to support democratic innovation and effective civic participation. He works with a wide range of public bodies, such as the UN, the European Commission and the parliaments of the UK, Chile, Moldova and Serbia. Andy is author of the 2016 World e-Parliament Report and the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Social Media Guidelines for Parliaments and is a member of the UK Open Government Partnership Steering Group. Andy is the Founder and CEO of Democratise and a Governor of The Democratic Society.
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