Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Newspaper Blogs, Candidate Blogs

Denis Horgan of the Hartford Courant has turned his newspaper column into a blog. The blog format is very well suited to online news sites, unlike, say, the use of wiki, which failed so spectacularly at the L.A. Times's site.

Denis has done the right thing so far in actually responding to questions and comments readers pose. Not only is this good form, it gives the public a chance to actually interact with someone they've been reading for years.

The same is true of candidate blogs, I believe. If Dan Malloy and John DeStefano posted and responded on their blogs on, say, a weekly basis, regular voters might start taking more of an interest in them. There is certainly a lot of interest here when candidates come for Q&As.

Blogs might start being useful in non-campaign years, too. Elected officials certainly answer a lot of mail and email: why not add in a bit of time to post and respond in something like a blog format? It's one thing to answer private mail, but interacting with people on the public web could help elected officials reach and talk to thousands they never could before.

The example not to follow for this is Kevin Sullivan's poor little abortive blog, which started off well enough but hasn't been updated in almost two weeks. Sullivan never actually responded to the questions people posted on the site, many of which were genuine, and the conversation first degenerated into a grouchy snarkfest and then petered out entirely. Sullivan promised interactivity and then didn't deliver, which frustrated people. I can't blame them.

It's telling, though, that there are so many comments on the site. People are interested. They want to talk to the Lieutenant Governor, even if he apparently doesn't want to talk to them.

Websites in general and blogs specifically are still evolving as a medium. Kudos to Denis Horgan for being willing to interact with the reading public. Here's hoping more will follow his example.

12 comments:

CT05 Admin said...

Ghenghis, you have emerged as a prescient and capable leader on the Connecticut blogoscene.

Kudos to you and thanks for your effort and the quality of your work!

Genghis Conn said...

Thanks, CT05. I'm looking forward to seeing your site and the other district-specific sites take off next year.

DeanFan84 said...

Re the Congressional Races:

My feeling is that we should have one consolidated "TurnCTBlue" website. Dems could pull together information from all three Congressional campaigns, as well as the Governor's contest.

I live in New Haven, and I can tell you that exceedingly few Democrats even know the names of our Congressinal challengers. Nor do they know who is battling it out for the governorship.

We need focus. And my feeling is that the best way to do it is on a statewide basis. The races could feed off of each other. And the one website would be fresher and more interesting than four less frequently updated sites. fwiw.

CT Dems have to pull together, across the board, if we are going to get the job done in 2006.

Any interest in a statewide bloggers' conference?

Aldon Hynes said...

Our goal at the DeStefano Blog has been for the Mayor to post at least weekly, and respond to comments. Unfortunately, the schedule just hasn’t worked out well for that recently. A lot of that is probably my fault and I need to be more proactive on that.

Nonetheless, we are hoping to get that going again. We also thought the online Q&A’s that have gone on here are very important and we have been trying to expand on that and schedule a larger dialog on our blog. Currently, we are looking to have one next Wednesday from 5 to 6, assuming no scheduling changes.

I hope a lot of people join us for that.

In terms of turning e-campaigning into e-democracy, that is a topic very close to my heart and was one of the first things I asked the Mayor about before joining his campaign. He told me he was committed to using blogs to improve communications within the State House. Whether or not that means I will be any more successful in getting him to blog on a weekly basis as Governor than I have been getting him to blog on a weekly basis as a candidate remains to be seen, but I look forward to trying.

In terms of a Turn CT Blue blog, or something like that, I’m all for it. I set up Democracy for CT as a site where progressive Democrats, particularly those coming out of the Dean movement and Democracy for America, could post information and have their own blog. Any progressive Democrat that wants to blog there is welcome. We could also set up a good Connecticut Politics blog aggregator, if people would all support RSS.

I also would like to help bloggers do more as a group in Connecticut. From the campaign perspective, I would like to schedule regular conference calls with bloggers and the Mayor. In addition, I would love to see a CT Bloggers Convention.

Anyone want to help make this happen? Get in touch with me
aldon@destefanoforct.com

Genghis Conn said...

Scheduling is probably the biggest barrier to this sort of interactivity, but I think it'll be worthwhile for the candidates and elected officials who do it regularly.

I've added a more accessible RSS feed (through FeedBurner) at the bottom of this page. If anyone is having trouble getting the feed from this site, let me know.

A CT bloggers' conference? Not a bad idea at all! It would be nice to meet everybody.

Slow Rheal Cormier said...

The idea of a coordinated Democratic website sounds fantastc! I will have to check out the sites Aldon just mentioned. Up here in Litchfield County, I am am desperate for any interaction I can have with other progessives!

Lon said...

Add my support for holding a CT Bloggers conference at some point in the near future. I'd love to be a part of it.

Another thought I had was having a weekly podcast where we can all reflect on the previous week's political news. I was thinking the format can be similar to that of Twit. It could be quite successful. The Gizmo Project (a skype competitor) can make this very easy to do. Any interest out there?

I also like Aldon's idea of creating a Connecticut aggregator for Connecticut blogs. I posted myself up on Blogpac.org but perhaps it would be beneficial to have a Connecticut oriented site as well.

Nate said...

I'll admit that I contributed to much of the "snarkfest" over on the Sullivan blog. I do understand people's frustration with him setting up a blog and then abandoning it almost immediately. Still, it brings up a question applicable to much of the interactivity the internet affords between voter and candidate. Many of the comments on that blog are just general complaining, and lately some of us have moved past the snark to forge a more productive discussion. But there are also some real conspiracy theorists urging Mr. Sullivan to address the problem of the DCF circling their house in back sedans, or the state of CT and Yale engaged in a massive cover up of Lyme Disease. So how much can/should he respond to? How should politicians handle a truly "open" forum, where things can rapidly get out of hand?

Genghis Conn said...

Nate,

Good question. It's really up to the individual how much he/she wants to respond to. It may be useful to set up ground rules beforehand, like, say "[Candidate/Public Official] will only respond to questions relating to general public discourse on this thread," and so on. But that can easily get unwieldy, too.

A forum could be moderated, of course, with offensive/stupid/annoying content deleted. That opens an entirely new can of worms, though, as people complain about being deleted "for no good reason!"

The Denis Horgan blog actually screens comments to make sure they aren't outrageously offensive before they are posted. Others do this, too. It's a little annoying, but it might be worthwhile. It also, unfortunately, takes a lot of time out of someone's day to monitor.

Dan Tapper said...

Ghengis -

I handle media and communications for Lt. Governor Kevin Sullivan and helped him to get the blog started. Your remarks about the Lt. Governor are a touch unfair.

Several different topics have been posted on the "Let's Talk Connecticut" blog, with many comments coming in on each. Lt. Governor Sullivan responded to numerous posts on a few different occasions, and is still busy going through the dozens of replies to his "Open" post and preparing to respond to many of them.

Yes, more topics will be posted in the next few days, offering many more opportunities for folks to chime in and create discussions between themselves and Lt. Governor Sullivan.

The bottom line is this - Lt. Governor Sullivan started this blog to hear from the people of Connecticut and to generate discussions between those interested in taking part. That's exactly what's happened. If it's not the fastest paced or most rapidly changing blog in the world just yet, I ask that you please keep in mind it's only been two weeks, and he's still getting used to it and feeling his way through. But it's better than what was out there before - which is to say, nothing -it will keep getting better than it is, and it's still getting new input each day from the people out there. So far, so good.

So bear with him on this. This blog will grow and be a valuable resource to anyone who wants to use it. Stay tuned.

Dan Tapper

Genghis Conn said...

Dan,

I certainly hope that the Lt. Governor doesn't allow what could potentially be a very valuable tool slip away. I encourage him to be as responsive as possible where this is concerned.

However, I haven't been able to find any of his responses on the blog itself. Did he respond to people privately?

Dan Tapper said...

Genghis -

On two different occasions he responded to numerous posts at once under the "Campaign Finance" topic. That topic was taken down a few days ago and will be replaced with new ones soon.

Your concerns are appreciated, believe me, as is the advice to someone who's nowhere near as experienced a blogger as yourself. But I can tell you this will not slip away. Lt. Governor Sullivan was excited to get it started and remains excited about watching it develop. As I said, stay tuned.

Thanks.

DT