Citizen journalism in Iowa

Cross-posted at Political Forecast.

Maybe I’ve missed something in my absences from blogging over the past few months, but has the Register ever really done a serious news or feature piece on Iowa’s bloggers and citizen journalists?  I mean, I know we threaten their credibility and their readership by getting scoops, insight, and news out faster sometimes–not to mention that our commentary is sometimes more consistent and better written than their columnists’–but it almost seems like there is an intent to ignore the contributions that bloggers in Iowa have had both before the caucuses and in previous elections or issues.  Today, in their features section, they profile one citizen journalist who has been vlogging for PurpleStates.tv (she had to audition to get the gig) and one guy who has been doing it for MTV.  Don’t get me wrong, their efforts are valuable…but what about the folks who do this on their own time and don’t necessarily live off of it?

The folks at Iowa Independent have been doing regular news and political reporting since May, and other bloggers on both sides of the aisle have been part of the debate and policy discussion in Iowa politics for a few years now.  Other papers across the state, as well as national papers and news magazines, have highlighted our growth and commented on our contributions.

Simply put, why can’t Iowa’s paper of record recognize or examine the Iowa online community for what it is and report back to the people of Iowa on it?  I don’t want the media attention, the scrutiny, the interviews, the publicity; I just think that some of us deserve the recognition for the contributions we make.  Two of my former colleagues at Iowa Independent have already talked a bit about this subject (see Chase Martyn’s initial post here and read Ben Weyl’s abbreviated response here) and I think it is one worth further discussion as we continue to build Iowa’s blogosphere.

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Busy day

Thanks to all of our visitors yesterday.  To the best of my knowledge it was one of Bleeding Heartland’s busiest days ever as we gathered over 2,000 visits and over 3,300 page views.

Now that the caucuses over, it doesn’t mean we’re finished here with insightful content.  We’ll be shifting back to covering Iowa politics, still with an eye on the presidential race.  Iowa is bound to be a swing-state again this fall (but with the turnout numbers from the caucuses in tow, I think Democrats will pull out the win).

We’ve got a lot of coverage that will likely cover the new legislative session as well as Sen. Tom Harkin’s re-election race, and all of the drama and intrigue surrounding Iowa’s House races.  One race we’ll likely be keeping a close eye on is the  emerging IA-03 primary race between incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell and former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon.

This is Iowa’s community blog for liberals, Democrats, progressives, and whatever else you wanna call yourselves.  Join up, post your thoughts in comments and diaries, and help strengthen the netroots in Iowa.

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Caucus Reporting for the Big Blogs

Mike Lux posted this earlier over at Open Left:

If you are living in Iowa, please send me your thoughts and stories regarding the state of play as things move forward to

openleft at gmail dot com

I’d love to hear your on-the-ground perspective.

The caucus reports from those on the ground is going to be a new feature at Open Left and he’s looking for activists, writers, and anyone else to send him their thoughts.  That means you.  Drop him a line every once in a while, and tell him what you think its like on the ground here in Iowa.

And while you’re at, leave your thoughts in diaries here as well.  Bleeding Heartland only grows when you post your own thoughts, leave comments, and invite your friends to take part in our community.

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Is Clinton Genuinely Reaching Out To Bloggers On Iraq?

Earlier today Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign actively solicited bloggers to join in on a conference call hosted by their blogger, Peter Daou, in announcing a “special endorsement.”  The campaign didn’t release any more information about the endorsement and it was a pretty cryptic move, yet I still decided to join in on the call along with several other major bloggers from across the progressive blogosphere.

So, at 12:30 PM Central time I got on the call to find out that the special endorsement was coming from former Ambassador Joe Wilson, the husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame.  And by 12:53 PM I broke the news on Iowa Independent that Amb. Wilson had chosen to endorse Clinton.

Multiple blogs picked up the news and reported the news, as they should have because it was a substantial endorsement.  But the traditional or mainstream media didn’t pick up the story at all.

Greg Sargent of TPM’s Election Central posted these thoughts about the call:

“A few quick points about this. The Hillary campaign, which rolled out the Wilson news on a conference call with liberal bloggers, clearly hopes the Wilson endorsement serves at least the partial goal of winning over liberal activists and netroots types who might still be unhappy with Hillary for all the reasons you’ve heard repeatedly by now. Wilson carries great cache among such folks, who were energized by his speaking out against the administration and everything else that happened as a result of his protracted fight with the White House.”

Taylor Marsh wrote:

“The ’08 selection season is not over by a long shot and I am staying neutral in the primary. But the endorsement of Clinton by Joseph Wilson is a big step for her campaign. That Clinton offered the scoop to a group of bloggers shows just how far she’s come and how far she’s willing to engage a community, which on the whole is very critical of her on all fronts. She’s also accepted the invitation to YearlyKos, which I’m looking forward to very much. Clinton is illustrating her ability to engage on all fronts, even where she knows she’ll take heat. The strength of Clinton’s candidacy continues to expand.”

The campaign seemed like they were genuinely reaching out to the netroots constituency, giving them a big story, and were going to let them break the news.

However, the blogs didn’t get credit with breaking the news.  The Clinton campaign didn’t direct the traditional or mainstream media to blogposts about the endorsement and then elaborate and what was reported by citizen journalists.  Instead, they waited until later in the afternoon and put out a release from the campaign.  Their campaign didn’t even post the announcement on their blog until two hours after the conference call occurred and didn’t link to any other bloggers’ reactions (of which their was plenty).

The Des Moines Register first reported their story on the endorsement at 6:15 PM this evening, a full 5 hours after the news was broken at Iowa Independent, on their own blog.

Now, I admit, I’m probably a little pissy and being a bit selfish.  Both because I broke the story on Iowa Independent and because I’m a blogger who has been harsh on Clinton in the past.  Multiple other blogs around the country, even ones more than important than Bleeding Heartland, have been critical of Clinton (even unfairly so) so when I got today’s invitation to the call I was hopeful that it would be genuine interaction with a constituency or interest group that hadn’t been on her side for a long time.  Particularly on the issue of Iraq, she’s had to fight for respect on the blogs.

Other campaigns have been great about highlighting how the netroots help in breaking and spreading news about the campaigns, and even engage them like the traditional media (see Chris Dodd’s, John Edwards’ and Bill Richardson’s campaigns as an example).  Heck, Bill Richardson’s campaign sends out a weekly “Richardson Round-Up” in Iowa that highlights what the media–both traditional and new–have been saying about the candidate in the past week.

Instead, the Clinton campaign let the blogs break the news and then let it fester amongst themselves.  Then gave the traditional media a heads-up a few hours later and even let Wilson do some one-on-one interviews over the phone.

Maybe I’m just jealous.  But it sure seems like if you’re going to reach out, make it count and put some force into it.  Don’t do it half-assed.

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BlogPac Progressive Entrepreneur Contest

This post comes from Chris Bowers of OpenLeft and BlogPac.

  For the past year, as part of our ongoing effort to support the progressive blogosphere and movement, BlogPac has delivered over four-dozen targeted, no-strings-attached grants to progressive activists, organizations, campaigns, and media outlets around the country. Now, we would like to both expand and open up our grant making process, and give your progressive movement building idea a chance to receive one of our grants. As such, today BlogPac is launching a nationwide contest to find the five best new, grassroots progressive infrastructure projects in America, and provide those projects with the money, exposure, and connections necessary to get off the ground.

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Who is going to YearlyKos?

For those of you who don't already know or who haven't yet registered, the second annual YearlyKos Convention is coming up quickly, August 2-5 in Chicago.  Last year was the first convention and it was held in Las Vegas, so I wasn't able to make it.  This year, however, I registered in January and have been making plans to go and be involved.  You can get details about the convention here .  So far, the convention is bringing out a lot of prominent bloggers and political leaders.  Here's a quick political guest list so far:

  • Sen. Chris Dodd
  • Sen. Dick Durbin
  • Ret. Gen. Wes Clark
  • DNC Chair and Gov. Howard Dean
  • Fmr. Sen. John Edwards
  • Sen. Barack Obama
  • Gov. Bill Richardson

All of the Presidential candidates listed above will also be taking part in a presidential leadership forum hosted by the convention on August 4th.  They're still waiting to hear back from other candidates about their attendance.

Registration for the convention ends July 14th, so hurry up and get registered now.

There is also some fantastic networking and organizational opportunites to indulge in at YearlyKos, with lots of different breakout sessions and social opportunities.  One highlight this year will be Regional Blogging Caucuses.  I have the privilege of being one of the Organizers/Coordinators of the Minnesota-Wisconsin-Iowa Blog Caucus and I'm looking to get a list of Iowa folks who are planning on attending YearlyKos and would be interested in participating in the caucus.  They'll only be 90 minutes long and will provide ample time to talk about regional hot topics, as well as to get to know fellow bloggers from the region.  I'll post more information on the Regional Caucuses as I learn more.

Anyway, if you're planning on attending, leave a comment and let me know!

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