The February/March issue of the American Journalism Review features “Blogging on the Hustings,” a lengthy analysis of the Virginia political blogosphere by Marc Fisher, focusing on the role that we played in the November elections. (I had to look up “hustings” — it’s “a place where political campaign speeches are made.”) I’ve given it a once-over, and it strikes me as a fair and honest assessment.
Fisher portrays our community as one that is vibrant, varied and dedicated; flawed, yes, but one of the best in the nation. He specifically looks at Chad Dotson’s Commonwealth Conservative, Ben Tribbett’s “Not Larry Sabato” (which I thought was a group blog; live and learn), Jim Bacon’s “Bacon’s Rebellion,” Lowell Feld’s “Raising Kaine,” and this here blog. Also, more than mere mentions are made of Kenton Ngo’s “750 Volts” and Claire Guthrie Gastañaga’s “Change Servant.”
I like to think that the Virginia political blogosphere is one of the finest blogospheres on the internets today, and I suspect that those reading this article will come to that conclusion. We’re not perfect. There are blogs and bloggers that I’m ashamed to claim as one of our own. But on the whole, we’re quite an impressive bunch.
It’s worth mentioning that I said something in my interview with Marc Fisher that, while it was true then, is no longer true today. It’s this bit:
“I hate the whole approach of being anti-media or even using the initials MSM,” says Jaquith, who got married in September and had to promise his wife he’d back away from the keyboard after the election. “I like reporters. If somebody said you could magically be governor or a political reporter for the Washington Post, I don’t know which I’d pick. I’ll be honest: I write for you. It’s for journalists and my friends and family.” Nothing thrills him more than to see one of his items morph into a story in the daily paper, as some of his posts examining campaign contributions did.
What has changed is that, since the election, I’ve found that I’m not writing for reporters. I remain very happy to contribute to the creation of a newspaper article or a TV news piece, but I don’t write blog entries with that in mind. Since the pre-filing period for bills began, I’ve found that I’m writing for legislators, legislative aides, lobbyists and, in particular, citizen activists. Though this hasn’t been a conscious transition, I suspect it’s because journalists play very little role in the passage of most bills, whereas they can play a major role in the narrative of a campaign.
Anyhow, Fisher’s piece is a feather in the cap of Virginia bloggers. Here’s hoping that we can continue to serve as an example to the rest of the nation.