Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Political blogging malaise

To a great extent, political blogging in Virginia has become a predictable animal much faster than I thought it would. Maybe this is just a lull and it will pass.

Still, not unlike the templates and formulas of the mainstream press that bloggers have piled on to ridicule, now the copycat bloggy equivalents seem just as obvious, and perhaps even more galling.

The willingness of partisan bloggers to play team ball and prevaricate shamelessly has turned out, so far, to be every bit as tedious as the worst radio talk shows and cable TV newsy programs. To me, the edgy alternative that political blogging was once held up to be is less evident every day.

Maybe political blogging has just gotten in a rut. Or, maybe its true heyday has come and gone.


Alice said...

I'm surprised to hear you say that. While I can't think of anything especially brilliant that anyone has done (well, Jeff Huber has been doing brilliant work) it does not seem to be particularly ax grinding recently.

I can't think of any really over-the-top posts.

There are no statewide races, so we are all doing local stuff.

F.T. Rea said...


It was no one thing that prompted this post. So, in a way, you’re right. Actually, is was taking a break from being so engaged that brought it on.

You see, I’ve been devoting most of my blogging time to setting up a new community blog in my neighborhood -- the Fan District Hub ( Working on that project has given me a perspective I hadn’t had in the last couple of years, because I’d stayed wired in to the Virginia political blogosphere more or less on a daily basis.

Still, I’ve been glancing at the aggregators and reading/scanning various posts. I’ve watched the grade school-esque blogger influence ratings brouhaha come and go. Has it gone yet? And, as I began to get an overview for a few weeks, without really being involved in any of the discussions, it struck me how predictable it has all gotten.

Mostly the same guys keep saying the same things, over and over...

Then I noticed a post by Waldo Jaquith yesterday, where he had a graph that displayed the number of posts his aggregator had run so far this year. It seems the day-to-day pattern of lull and burst has been as regular as can be, regardless of what was going on in the real world.

That’s when it hit me that the political blogosphere in Virginia, as a whole, has gotten to be a very predictable and mostly boring entity.

Alice said...

I’ve watched the grade school-esque blogger influence ratings brouhaha come and go. Has it gone yet?

I don't think that is ever going to go away, human nature can't resist it.

Maybe I just have lower expectations of political blogging. To me it is a little like canvassing or phone banking, just one more tool.

Sisyphus said...

It seems to me the quality of much political blogging tends to reflect the level of the overall political dialogue in the country -- which is to say, not very high. Sometimes I get the feeling some bloggers are writing to the aggregators rather than for a larger audience. Maybe this is what you are referring to above.

But local political blogs can have a useful function especially at a time when the quality and quanity of news coverage by local newspapers is going downhill. Have you noticed the trend in the Richmond Times-Dispatch recently printing less news and more fluff? We are supposedly a nation at war yet in this morning's paper you have to go to page 5 to find a story about the war in Iraq and Americans dying there. Compare that with the front page where two-thirds of the space is devoted to a picture of a boat.

But it's not only the reporting of the news that is lacking but the analysis of the news. Bart Hinkle has some interesting stuff from time to time but most of the other columns are syndicated stuff out of the can. What the TD lacks is original contributions of analysis to foreign affairs or Virginia politics or Richmond city hall politics. (The Richmond Free Press almost always has better city hall coverage and analysis than the TD.)

This is the vacuum that local political blogs have the potential to fill. Because few if any of us are professional writers the quality is bound to be hit and miss but if readers are willing to wade through some of the crap they will find some real nuggets of gold.


Jason Kenney said...

I think it's just a trend given the season. There really isn't but so much to talk about and many bloggers feel the need to constantly updated, even if they're repeating themselves or others. It'll pick back up again come August but though the summer months it'll be a little dead.

What I miss are the real content blogs of old. Where are the polibloggers who really added something to the conversation? Chad, Conaway, etc., we're missing the folks who really added meat to the blogosphere and brought something to the table, even during the quiet months.