Gov. Rell will be delivering her annual State of the State address on Wednesday as the legislature kicks off its short 2006 session. This also seems like a good time to look around and check on the state of Connecticut's political blogosphere as we head into what's certain to be an alternately entertaining and deadly dull election year.
The state of the political blogosphere in Connecticut is vibrant, growing and much stronger than it was a year ago. In the beginning of 2005, there were perhaps a handful of new blogs (including this one) and a sprinkling of older ones, many of which were disconnected from one another. Today, the political blogosphere in this state is a well-connected (for the most part) network with over two dozen acive blogs, which are viewed by thousands of people every day.
Bloggers are starting to move beyond simply commenting on the news to actively reporting it. New online news services like CT News Junkie and the New Haven Independent are helping to drive interest in online news content and coverage.
Both the left and the right are developing a strong online presence; although, since this is Connecticut, the left is somewhat more represented than the right. On the left, the increasingly interesting My Left Nutmeg has become a hotbed of pro-Lamont/anti-Lieberman sentiment, and played a huge role in breaking the Lamont story. CONNECTICUTBlog has been delivering some interesting original reporting as well as good commentary. On the right, CT Conservative has become the standard blog for conservatives, and delivers thoughtful commentary on a variety of issues. This blog also has some interesting original reporting and interviews. The Noonz Wire is also a must-read for conservatives, with commentary on politics both state and national, as well as current cultural issues.
Political campaigns have been making more and better use of campaign blogs, most notably as a forum where voters can interact with candidates and staffers. The DeStefano blog has been the leader in this area so far.
Hyperlocal blogs covering individual towns or regions have begun to gain popularity, especially as newspaper coverage of local events recedes. These blogs, coupled with hyperlocal online newspapers, are starting to revolutionize the way we get local news. A standout in this area is the Hat City Blog, which has great commentary about Danbury. Unlike many hyperlocal blogs, Hat City Blog is updated regularly.
Established newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and the New London Day have started publishing blogs written by popular columnists as part of their growing online content. Colin McEnroe's blog, To Wit, is a good example of a newspaper blog mixing culture and politics.
Lastly, one of the most important developments of this past year was the introduction of Connecticut Weblogs, an aggregator service which keeps track of new posts at all kinds of blogs all over the state. This important and valuable tool helps us keep up to date on all the latest information and opinions, and has become a must-read.
So, in conclusion, the state's online political community is getting stronger, more varied and more influential all the time. It's fair to say that a lot of the interest in Ned Lamont, for example, has been driven by blogs and online news sources. The coming year will be a test of our creativity and resolve, as we do our best to cover the elections from unique and compelling perspectives, and to deliver stories and commentary voters won't find anywhere else.
I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on where we've been and where this exciting and evolving medium is going in the future.