Guidelines for Bleeding Heartland authors covering the Iowa caucuses

Bleeding Heartland published more work by guest authors in 2018 than ever before and is on track to set the bar higher this year.

With a record number of candidates seeking to take on Donald Trump and a more accessible Iowa caucus process, I anticipate massive engagement among Democratic activists. These rules and tips are for anyone who would like to contribute to this site’s coverage of the presidential campaign.

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50 good political writers over 50

I turned 50 years old this month. Ten years ago, I marked my milestone birthday by flagging “40 good bloggers over 40.” This time, I am casting a wider net to highlight not only people with their own blogs (which are, unfortunately, in a state of decline), but any political reporters, commentators, or authors who are in their second half-century.

Many writers I enjoy reading were too young to be listed here, such as Douglas Burns, Andie Dominick, Todd Dorman, Juliette Kayyem, Andy Kopsa, and a star of political blogging’s “golden age,” Atrios/Duncan Black. An early draft of this post included William Petroski, who recently retired from the Des Moines Register. His coverage of Iowa legislative happenings is missed.

One of my all-time favorite bloggers, Steve Gilliard, would be in his 50s now. I’ve often wished he had lived to cover Barack Obama’s presidency and the Donald Trump disaster.

On to the list, in alphabetical order:

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The 18 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2018

Sometimes I feel nostalgic for my “past life” covering Russian politics. Social media didn’t exist, and my colleagues and I had no information about which articles most interested our readers. Potential for clicks or shares didn’t factor into our story selection. We wrote up what seemed important to us.

On any given day, a half-dozen or more newsworthy Iowa politics stories present themselves, but I only have the capacity to cover one or two. I look for ways to add value: can I highlight events not covered elsewhere? Can I offer a different perspective or more context on the story everyone’s talking about?

Although chasing traffic will never be my primary goal, doing this for more than a decade has given me a decent sense of which topics will strike a chord with readers. But you never really know. Just like last year and the year before that, surprises lurked in the traffic numbers on Bleeding Heartland posts published during 2018 (353 written by me, 202 by other authors).

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, 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 don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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