With the general election campaign heating up, the need for the UK press to keep a watchful eye on candidates' pledges – both before and after the election itself – is growing by the day.
Hoping to bring you the latest news from inside Westminster is Parly, a website currently being crowdfunded and aiming to launch on May 8.
"The best way to describe it is Parly wants to be an app when it grows up," Tony Grew, previously parliamentary editor of PoliticsHome.com and reporter for the Sunday Times, told Journalism.co.uk. "I want it to be an app because the way we consume information has changed so much."
Parly will begin life as a website providing exclusive content from inside parliament, said Grew, with the aim of becoming an app to put "parliament in your pocket" and reflect new audience behaviours.It's all those things you see and hear as a journalist and don't have anywhere to put but give a really deep understanding of the placeTony Grew, Parly
"If something happens in parliament, if there is an argument or some sort of contention, it will either appear on Twitter, which can be very hard to access as Twitter is very noisy, or someone will go away, sit down, play back a tape, take 30 minutes to write it up and put it up as a story.
"I want Parly to be more flexible than Twitter in what content you can put on it, but I also want it to have some of that immediacy. It's bringing it all together. I want it to be the definitive place in terms of knowing what's going on and understanding what's going on."
Parly began crowdfunding yesterday, April 7, with the aim of raising £15,000 by April 28. The website will 'soft' launch on May 8, while a hard launch will take place on May 19, the day the new House of Commons will meet for the first time.
"One of the reasons I decided to crowdfund the project was because I wanted to do it in a new way," he said. "I didn't want to go to the big media companies or to super rich people, I wanted to do it differently.
Tony Grew gives an introduction to Parly
Grew was inspired by Wings Over Scotland, an independent news website which sprung to prominence during the Scottish campaign and managed to crowd fund £90,850.
Once crowdfunding has finished, the aim for Parly is to seek further funding, not only to develop the app, but also to form an apprenticeship scheme for journalists in parliament.
"You may have read the press on social mobility and politics, but journalism is a much bigger offender, particularly in the lobby," Grew added. "The press gallery has done some really good work in this area. We have ran an internship scheme with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust which has been successful, but it is maddening to get really, really good ethnic-minority journalists in, to see how good they are, and then have to turn around in two weeks and say goodbye.
"That's one of the things I want to achieve, having a proper year long apprenticeship scheme. Parliament would be a great place to do your journalism training, principally because it is all about interaction, making contacts, constantly talking to people."
In its first iteration, Parly will be a group of both journalists and non-journalists, headed by Grew, who will submit stories to the websites newsfeed. Unlike other parliamentary news websites these stories will not necessarily be political-based, they will also look at the general goings on in parliament.
"A lot of it can be almost random. I was walking through parliament and a load of people were milling around because Brian May, guitarist of Queen, was there. It's a really intriguing place to work and I feel a lot of that is missed. The beautiful randomness is something I really want to capture."
Each day will be archived on the website, allowing people to search through "an alternative picture of each day at parliament".
"As a journalist, I hear so much and see so much on a daily basis, I just don't have anywhere to put it. Twitter seems a bit like shouting into the wind, and that's where the concept came from. It's all those things you see and hear as a journalist and don't have anywhere to put but give a really deep understanding of the place."
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