05 May 2008

It's amazing when your state becomes relevant...

...to a presidential primary.

The podcast for the Lexington Forum event can be found here. (the panel discussion starts 20 minutes into the podcast.) Listening to it I think I came off as an Obama supporter; that really wasn't my intent since I haven't declared support for anyone. I do think his success is the reason we're having important discussions about politics and social media, however.

I thought Ryan Alessi and Scott Jennings were smart and I'm very pleased that we didn't descend into the arguing you hear on the talking head shows on cable tv. It was an inherently "political" discussion, but we spent a significant amount of time talking about the impact blogs social media has had on the election and the tensions between online and traditional media. I even let a sarcastic crack out about bloggers being "basement-dwelling, pajama wearing, cheetoh-eating folks who rant" - but remember, I'm a blogger too, and I did it really to note the irony of how to this day these stereotypes exist and yet we gain influence daily. Honestly, all in good fun - no hatemail, please... ;)

Scott Jennings (former deputy political director in the WH under Karl Rove) made some comments I found interesting - he essentially thought that blogs and social media really aren't that relevant in Kentucky. Listen to the podcast to get his thoughts directly, but basically he thinks that blogs talk only to "the base" and very few people actually pay attention to them in the state. He did, however, volunteer the "Macaca Moment" as an example of why they have to be taken seriously.

Hey may be right - Kentucky is one state where change comes much more slowly than elsewhere - though I tend to think that the online channel's influence is increasing, even here in the Bluegrass State. The state has its share of political bloggers, and they're honing their craft. I think when Mark Nickolas left (and took Bluegrass Report with him) the state lost its major online political hub, and no one blog is filling the void, at least on the left.

Ryan Alessi (Political Reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader) discussed how Sen. Obama's "bitter" remarks were actually first reported by a blogger, and how blogs are now attending the same conferences and events he is. Ryan is one of those guys who still sees himself as a mainstream media guy, but he's young and he gets it.

Again, the panel discussion starts about 20 minutes into the podcast, but if you live locally I think the brief remarks by Mayor Jim Newberry before our panel were important - he's focusing on STEM education, and I personally think his idea is critical for Lexington's long-term success.


Christopher Scott Rice said...

Hi David,

Excellent post, and excellent discussion at the Lexington Forum. Thanks for providing the link!

I have to disagree, however with both you and Scott on a couple of things. First, yes, Mark leaving really left a hole in the Kentucky blogosphere, but I would argue that other, more progressive blogs are playing a stronger role lately. I've been working with Ben Carter of BlueGrassRoots.com on some social media ideas, and I think that community will eventually surpass what Nickolas did. Joe Sonka and David Shankula are also starting something interesting over at Barefoot and Progressive. Jim Pence's videos on YouTube are drawing a very large national audience. So, while Kentucky's blogosphere has gotten off to a late start, it is beginning to pick up with a vengeance. See what Jake at PageOne has managed to do in terms of traffic this year!

I would agree that the majority of Kentuckians are largely unaware of what's going on in the blogosphere (in terms of direct interaction), but not significantly more than the national numbers. I'd love to see some statistics on this (hmmm, I smell a class project brewing for next Spring's Kentucky Politics class).

Scott is only half right. The conservative neighborhood of the Kentucky blogosphere is indeed underdeveloped and perhaps more ignored by the people of Kentucky. When I did a group blog experiment with a Kentucky Politics class last Fall, the students had a very difficult time finding conservative Kentucky blogs of sufficient quality.

The challenge of the progressive neighborhood of the Kentucky blogosphere is to develop strong and effective relationships between blogs and online communities and progressive activist organizations "on the ground." Joe Sonka's recent work on preserving downtown Lexington is an early indicator of the development of this sort of relationship. BGR will also be taking some steps in this direction.

When you have some time I'd love to talk with you a little more about the Kentucky blogosphere.

PS, I also think Newberry's STEM proposal is important for the future of Lexington as a Creative Class center. My Kentucky Politics class had a fun time discussing this in the context of Florida's work at the end of the semester.

wyllie said...

What I find interesting in my day to day quest for information is that I when find something interesting on a blogger's site, I immediately look for cross reference on a more major news media site. For example, the first place I saw the Kantor video was on a blog site, so I searched the major news outlets until I found a reference as well. It's not that I don't trust the bloggers, but I also think that many of them will not put in the time and effort to checking facts, etc.

So I guess, I'm wonder what it would take to make me more likely to trust an individual blogger vs. trusting an media organization?

David said...

Chris - thanks for your comments. I do agree that there are some good blogs starting to fill that void Mark left, and you mention some good ones.

wyllie, I think you trust people you know. once you read a blog more and get a feel for it and determine its credibility, that's when trust comes into play, yes?

Mom101 said...

We take it for granted in states like NY that we're just important. Same way we take for granted that our teams will win (or at least should). Such an interesting perspective to think of how exciting the extended nomination race has been this year for states with later primaries and fewer delegates.

wyllie said...

Sure, I can figure out who to trust if I follow the blog over a period of time, but for an average person, just trying to get an overview of a movement (like the downtown Lexington development plans) it's still much easier to just read the newspaper than trying to find individual bloggers and figure out if you really can trust what they are saying.

I think what would be useful - for average people that do not necessarily want to be immersed in a particular issue - is sort of a blog clearing house. Real Clear Politics and the Huffington Post are examples of this - basically web based newspapers where you can catch up - one one web page - with what's going on. The idea is that this uberblog site would track what's going on in the blogsphere for you, but at a local/regional level with a more neutral bias to show both sides of the story. The idea being that this larger central site is somewhat vetting out the smaller blogs for you. Maybe we already have this here, but if we do, I have not been able to find it and it's not from a lack of trying.