Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What's Not in the P-I: Article about political bloggers leaves a lot to be desired

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an article this morning splashed on the center of its front page, entitled "Political bloggers rally the troops", which is a decidedly disappointing look at the local blogopshere's influence (especially in the 8th Congressional District race.)

The article, written by P-I reporter Gregory Roberts, lacks depth, and rather than examining a wide cross section of the local blogosphere, it focuses on perspectives from just a few individuals, most of whom are considered national bloggers, not local ones.

Despite our involvement in the 8th District race, and our efforts to unite and strengthen the local blogosphere, NPI isn't mentioned anywhere in the article, and we weren't alone in being ignored.

As The Stranger's Eli Sanders writes:
I could be petty and complain that the P-I didn’t note the Slog in its list of local blogs that are watching the Burner race closely (even though we have a significantly higher readership than the other blogs mentioned).
Eli and his colleagues at The Stranger have every right to feel annoyed, just as we do. They have played a huge role in helping boost Darcy's candidacy, through helping her fundraising efforts on SLOG and through a glowing piece in their print edition. They've kept a very close watch on this race.

For our part, NPI is among Darcy Burner's earliest backers - we've been supporting her campaign since August 2005, at a time when other bloggers were still unsure and contemplating who to support.

For example, David Goldstein, who the P-I's Roberts oddly labeled "likely the leader on the left side of the thriving local blog band", wrote last fall that he was "loath to take sides this early in the campaign" and "not yet convinced that either [Darcy Burner or Randy Gordon] is the right candidate to take on Reichert." (Hint to Roberts: the progressive blogosphere is not a band, and not led by any one individual - that's the beauty of the medium).

We at NPI, on the other hand, were convinced that Darcy Burner was the right candidate and stood a great chance of beating Dave Reichert.

We took the lead, under the guidance of our Executive Director, Andrew Villeneuve, and worked to convince the rest of the local blogosphere to support Darcy's candidacy. By the end of last January, we had succeeded, and the local blogosphere was firmly and unanimously united behind her.

Darcy, of course, deserves a lot of credit herself for making netroots outreach a priority of her campaign. She was gracious enough to take time of out her busy schedule to appear at the first ever Pacific Northwest Progressive Bloggers' Conference last Olympia, organized largely by our Executive Director, and the talented Lynn Allen, who writes at Evergreen Politics.

The P-I article mentions the conference, but doesn't credit its hardworking organizers, who spent months putting it together.

The P-I article also fails to mention endeavors like NPI's Pacific Northwest Portal, which has been instrumental in uniting the local progressive blogosphere and helping make it effective.

It's not so much the site itself that has made a difference, but the community that has grown up around it and the relationships that have been forged between the bloggers and activists who it represents. Before Pacific Northwest Portal's launch, the local progressive blogosphere was largely disunified.

The P-I article unfortunately gives the impression that the strength of the blogosphere flows from a few individuals - but that's just not true.

The progressive blogosphere isn't strong because of one individual and his or her influence - it's strong because it's a democratic community. People control their own destiny.

As Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong themselves wrote in their book, Crashing the Gate, (which the P-I's Roberts mentioned, but apparently hasn't read):
The fact is that we are part of a truly organic effort that is decentralized. We are no more "leaders" than anyone else who frequents our websites. We have laid the groundwork and helped build the "public square," but it is the community that provides the energy and shapes our agenda.

That's why this movement is so effective - and so threatening to established powers. It is leaderless. It cannot be harness, controlled, or co-opted.
There are hundreds of progressive bloggers in the Pacific Northwest who make up that community locally, and thousands more nationwide. And that's just the writers - there are many more readers.

This won't be the P-I's last article about the progressive blogosphere. We hope the next article they publish won't ignore the critical points I've mentioned, and will accurately convey the strengths of the medium.

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