# Blogging

Guidelines for guest authors covering Iowa's 2023 local elections

Two candidates announced mayoral campaigns in Des Moines this week: community activist Denver Foote, and city council member Josh Mandelbaum.

Bleeding Heartland only occasionally endorses candidates in city or school board elections. But I welcome guest posts about local races in Iowa, including those by candidates or urging readers to support a candidate. I copy edit guest commentaries for clarity and to conform to my “house style,” but I let authors speak their truth and publish all substantive pieces.

My advice for anyone wanting to write about any city or school board election in Iowa this year:

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2022 guest authors

Bleeding Heartland set new records for guest contributions in 2022, both in terms of total authors (nearly 150) and posts submitted (more than 350). For the first time since I became the website’s primary author in 2008, other people wrote more of the published material than I did. Some of their essays were among the most-read on the site this year. The steady stream of submissions helped me post fresh content almost every day, even during the hardest weeks after I broke my ankle.

Guest authors provided some exclusive reporting and in-depth analysis of topics ranging from unemployment benefits to the energy grid to Supreme Court rulings to maternal health data.

They shared their research about Iowa history, the supposed economic benefits and safety hazards of CO2 pipelines, and wildflowers. They shared insights about polling trends, teacher pay, and bygone traditions of news reporting.

They shared their personal experiences with abortion, systemic racism, student loan debt, and bullying directed at public school educators.

They shared advice for Iowa Democrats: how to talk about policies, how to rebuild a strong organization, how to handle the Iowa caucuses, and how to acknowledge accelerating hate toward LGBTQ people.

They shared success stories: rebuffing an attempted book ban and winning a high-profile legislative race.

They explained why some bills proposed in the Iowa legislature would benefit communities, and others would harm schools or young farmers.

Many authors endorsed Democrats seeking local, state, or federal offices. Others criticized Democratic elected officials for policies they advocated or failed to stand for, or challenged activists to “become self-aware of the prejudice and racism we perpetuate through our own systems of leadership.” Some Democratic candidates introduced themselves or made the case for certain policies.

I’m proud to provide a platform for a wide range of progressive or Democratic viewpoints and am grateful to all who wrote for this website. The majority of pieces linked below were published only at Bleeding Heartland.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2023. If you do not already have a user account on the site, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but let authors speak their own truth.

Although most authors write under their real names, I allow pseudonyms under some circumstances. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

A final note before I share all of this year’s guest posts: the Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued member this month when Richard Lindgren passed away, far too soon. A forthcoming piece will give Rick’s life and work the attention it deserves.

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The 22 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2022

Governor Kim Reynolds, the state legislature, and Iowa Supreme Court rulings inspired the majority of Bleeding Heartland’s most-read posts from this year.

This list draws from Google Analytics data about total views for 570 posts published from January 1 through December 29. I wrote 212 of those articles and commentaries; other authors wrote 358. I left out the site’s front page and the “about” page, where many people landed following online searches.

In general, Bleeding Heartland’s traffic was higher this year than in 2021, though not quite as high as during the pandemic-fueled surge of 2020. So about three dozen posts that would have ranked among last year’s most-viewed didn’t make the cut for this post. Some honorable mentions from that group:

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The 21 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2021

It’s time for another review of Bleeding Heartland’s most widely-read posts from the year that just ended. I always struggle a bit with this task, because the work I’m most proud of doesn’t always overlap with what resonated most with readers. Also, I’m wary of watching traffic numbers too closely, because I try not to let potential clicks drive my editorial decisions.

However, I always gain some insight from this review, so here goes.

This list draws from Google Analytics data about total views for 598 posts this website published during 2021: 362 written by me and 236 by other authors. I left out the site’s front page and the “about” page, where many people landed following online searches.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2021 guest authors

During the year that just ended, 114 authors wrote or co-authored 236 guest posts for this website. Those articles and commentaries covered a vast array of topics and employed many different writing styles, from exclusive reporting to in-depth analysis to personal stories to satire. Some were among the most-read of the 598 posts Bleeding Heartland published in 2021.

As in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was a frequent touchpoint for authors; at least 28 guest posts addressed some aspect of the public health disaster.

Other state government policies inspired 40 posts, covering bills proposed or adopted by the legislature or Governor Kim Reynolds’ actions not directly related to the pandemic.

Nearly two dozen posts related to the January 6 coup attempt, the Big Lie about the 2020 election, or former President Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party.

Authors focused on the Iowans in Congress eighteen times, with Senator Chuck Grassley the leading subject.

Seventeen commentaries offered advice for the Iowa Democratic Party or Democrats generally in light of mostly disappointing election results here in 2020.

Candidates for state, federal, or local offices (or their supporters) wrote nineteen posts during the year.

Authors covered many other issues, from reproductive rights to the environment, and occasionally reviewed lesser-known historical events in Iowa or on a national scale.

I’m proud to provide a platform for progressive views and grateful for the hard work that went into creating these pieces, most of them published only at Bleeding Heartland.

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Introducing Bleeding Heartland's new tagging system

During the slow news week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I often reflect on my work and plan changes for the year to come. At this time in 2018, I was preparing to abandon the handle “desmoinesdem” in favor of a standard byline. Although I had valid reasons for choosing that pseudonym in the 2000s, I decided later that publishing under my real name had other advantages and was more transparent.

Over the past several days I’ve been implementing a change to this site’s tagging system, incorporating best journalism practices that should also make the site more user-friendly.

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