James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for May 15th, 2008

Howard Dean and convention bloggers

Posted by James McPherson on May 15, 2008

The Democratic National Committee has announced 55 bloggers who will cover this year’s Democratic Convention, in what DNC chair Howard Dean calls the party’s “commitment to engaging a broad spectrum of audiences … using new technology and other creative means.” The announcement notes that Dean notified the bloggers of their selection via an online video message.

The 55 blogs represent each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia,  Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and “Democrats abroad.” With names ranging from Hummingbirdminds to HorsesAss (with, not surprisingly lots of “blue”), they were chosen from more than 400 applicants. The announcement also notes: “Some of the blogs selected for the State Corps are full-time, professional endeavors while others are the work of individuals, who through their own efforts have become recognized authorities on state and local politics.  Bloggers had to submit daily audience information and provide examples of posts that made their blogs stand out as an effective online organizing tool or agent of change, a demonstration of both the reach and impact blogs have had and will continue to have on the 2008 election.  The program recognizes the growth of more localized blogs and is in line with Governor Dean’s 50-state strategy.”

It remains to be seen what effect, if any, the addition of the bloggers will have on the convention and its coverage, and unless the Obama-Clinton battle unexpectedly continues through the convention, the happenings in Denver will provide little news. But the inclusive move provides a reminder of two things the often-criticized Dean has done to permanently change the face of Democratic and national politics.

The first of those was the 50-state strategy mentioned above. Against the wishes of the Clintons and other party regulars, Dean scrapped the tradional Democratic approach of focusing on supposed key states to try to build up the party in every state. The resulting structure (which as I’ve noted elsewhere mirrored some of the early party-building activities that brought Republicans to power in the 1990s) is a primary reason that Democrats did so well in the 2006 Congressional elections, surprising virtually everyone by winning a majority in both houses.

Dean’s other significant contribution was in showing Barack Obama how to run a successful campaign. Dean had used an unprecedented Internet campaign to gain the support of young voters, labor unions and others for his own presidential bid. Yet because Dean’s campaign dramatically flamed out, and because the 2004 elections ended up being pretty much decided by the same traditional blocks of voters as in previous elections, most 2008 candidates–and most notably Hillary Clinton’s campaign–overlooked or ignored the promise of Dean’s methods. But Obama’s campaign has used and refined those methods to generate mind-boggling amounts of money and to fire up the voters who would turn out for state caucuses. Perhaps the new voters will fade as the election gets closer and the campaign becomes inevitably nastier, and Obama may lose to McCain in the general election. Still, you can bet that the leading candidates from both sides in 2012 will be using Obama’s–and Dean’s–methods.

The Democratic use of the Internet also recalls how conservatives effectively use alternative media, especially direct mail, in building their own coalition. As I point out in my most recent book, “Particularly important from a media standpoint, direct mail gave sponsoring organizations a means to get out their message in an unfiltered, emotional, one-sided way–without drawing the attention of the mainstream media or political opponents.”

I have to admit that I’ve never heard of, let alone read, most of the 55 blogs selected, but will make it a point to sample them all during the next couple of weeks. In case you’d like to do so, the complete list is as follows:

ALASKA – Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis – http://divasblueoasis.blogspot.com

ALABAMA- Doc’s Political Parlor – http://www.politicalparlor.net

ARKANSAS- Under The Dome.com – http://www.underthedome.com

ARIZONA – Ted Prezelski – Rum, Romanism and Rebellion – http://www.rumromanismrebellion.net

CALIFORNIA – Calitics- http://Calitics.com

COLORADO -SquareState.net – http://squarestate.net

CONNECTICUT -My Left Nutmeg – http://myleftnutmeg.com

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA- DCist.com – http://dcist.com

DELAWARE – TommyWonk – http://tommywonk.blogspot.com/

DEMOCRATS Abroad – Democrats Abroad Argentina – http://www.yanquimike.com.ar

FLORIDA – Florida Progressive Coalition – http://flaprogressives.org

GEORGIA- Tondee’s Tavern – http://www.tondeestavern.com

GUAM – No Rest for the Awake – Minagahet Chamorro – http://minagahet.blogspot.com

HAWAII – iLind.net: Ian Lind Online – http://www.ilind.net

IOWA – The Iowa Independent – http://iowaindependent.com

IDAHO – 43rdStateBlues.com – http://www.43rdstateblues.com

ILLINOIS- Prairie State Blue – http://www.PrairieStateBlue.com

INDIANA- Blue Indiana – http://www.blueindiana.net

KANSAS – EverydayCitizen.com – http://everydaycitizen.com

KENTUCKY – BlueGrassRoots – http://www.bluegrassroots.org

LOUISIANA – Daily Kingfish – http://www.dailykingfish.com

MASSACHUSETTS – Blue Mass. Group – http://www.bluemassgroup.com

MARYLAND – The Center for Emerging Media – http://www.centerforemergingmedia.com

MAINE – Turn Maine Blue – http://www.turnmaineblue.com

MICHIGAN – Blogging For Michigan – http://bloggingformichigan.com

MINNESOTA – Minnesota Monitor – http://minnesotamonitor.com

MISSISSIPPI – The Natchez Blog – http://natchezms.blogspot.com

MISSOURI – Fired Up! LLC – http://www.firedupmissouri.com

MONTANA – Left in the West – http://www.leftinthewest.com

NORTH CAROLINA – BlueNC.com – http://bluenc.com

NORTH DAKOTA – NorthDecoder.com – http://www.northdecoder.com

NEBRASKA – New Nebraska Network – http://www.NewNebraska.net

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Blue Hampshire – http://www.bluehampshire.com

NEW JERSEY – PolitickerNJ.com – http://www.politickernj.com

NEW MEXICO – Democracy for New Mexico – http://www.DemocracyForNewMexico.com

NEVADA – Las Vegas Gleaner – http://www.lasvegasgleaner.com

NEW YORK – Room 8 – http://www.r8ny.com

OHIO – Ohio Daily Blog – http://www.ohiodailyblog.com

OKLAHOMA – DemoOkie – http://www.DemoOkie.com

OREGON – BlueOregon (blog) – http://www.blueoregon.com

PENNSYLVANIA – Keystone Politics – http://www.keystonepolitics.com

PUERTO RICO – Jusiper – http://jusiper.blogspot.com

RHODE ISLAND – Rhode Island’s Future – http://www.rifuture.org

SOUTH CAROLINA – CracktheBell.com – http://www.crackthebell.com

SOUTH DAKOTA – Badlands Blue – http://www.badlandsblue.com

TENNESSEE – KnoxViews/TennViews – http://www.knoxviews.com

TEXAS – Burnt Orange Report – http://www.BurntOrangeReport.com

UTAH – The Utah Amicus – http://utahamicus.com

VIRGINIA – Raising Kaine – http://www.raisingkaine.com

VIRGIN ISLANDS – Democratic Party of the US Virgin Islands – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/democratvi

VERMONT – Green Mountain Daily – http://greenmountaindaily.com

WASHINGTON – HorsesAss.org – http://www.horsesass.org

WISCONSIN – Uppity Wisconsin – http://www.uppitywis.org

WEST VIRGINIA – West Virginia Blue – http://www.wvablue.com

WYOMING – Hummingbirdminds blog – http://hummingbirdminds.blogspot.com

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