Thursday, 22 March 2012

Print is safe! How we 'beat' digital in the great D:BATE

Like many people in this city full of ideas and opinions, I just love a good debate.

Whether it’s about sport, politics, religion or any of the other facets of life that potentially divide us, I always enjoy witnessing and being part of the cut-and-thrust of lively and engaging verbal battles.

Therefore, I was delighted to see that a new debating forum has started in Bath – called, simply, D:BATE. The organisers of this forum want to create a way for Bathonians to take part in open and passionate discussions about some of the issues that affect us all both locally and nationally.

The winning team - Mike, myself and Robert. Pic: Matt Cardy
They kicked off in impressive style on Monday by tying in with Bath’s excellent digital festival to have a debate on the motion: “Digital is killing the print industry – the presses will stop running in ten years”.

Now, as most of you are reading this in print (although I know some will be reading it on my blog), you can imagine where I stand on the “will print survive” concept and so I was very pleased to be asked to join the team defending and promoting newspapers, books, magazines et al.

The nature of the debate meant that three of us (I was joined by the dynamic duo of Mike Goldsmith from Future and Robert Topping of the wonderful bookshop that carries his name) were each given seven minutes apiece to voice our arguments. These were interspersed by seven minute bursts of the opposite opinion from three equally committed speakers – local digital whizz kids Richard Godfrey and Chris Book and the flamboyant and entertaining author Julian Gough.

The idea was we would all give our opinions, take questions from the floor and then the audience would vote to see which team had won.

The excellent opposition. Above Julian and Richard. On the right is Chris Book.
Pics by Matt Cardy 

I’m delighted to say that we did (so keep your subscription to the Bath Chronicle going until at least 2021!) but I believe it’s not about the winning, it’s about the taking part.

In saying that however, I must confess that, on balance, winning is rather the better option.

The great thing about the night was that although the debate itself was seriously conducted, it was also great fun and I think all of us managed to mix the facts and stats we’d brought with us with a little bit of energy and wit to ensure that the very impressive sized audience in the glorious surroundings of the Pump Room enjoyed every minute.

In the wake of the demise of the Better Bath Forum (which did an equally important job last year), I think D:BATE will fill the gap nicely – and indeed offer something different to what we’ve seen before.
D:People behind Lightful D:BATE.
Some of the organsiers - Pic by Matt Cardy

The bright and breezy team led by Dom Moorhouse are not scared to tackle controversial issues – their next one on June 13 is about whether we need a monarchy right in the midst of the Jubilee celebrations – and there is an zeal and vitality among everyone involved which makes me think this could grow into something really special for the city.

You can find out more about the group at and I hope
that anyone who enjoys a good, healthy debate in a relaxed environment will keep an eye out for their future endeavours.

 Oh and finally, thanks to all of those who voted for our ‘side’. As I say it’s not about winning – but if you believe that then you will believe anything.

Like, for instance, that the presses will stop running in ten years time . . .

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