LGBTQ lives cannot be compromised

One Iowa Action: “We should not be encouraging half-measures and disparate treatment of our fellow Iowans.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Des Moines Register Opinion Editor Kathie Obradovich’s recent column sets out a laudable goal; protecting both religious liberty and the LGBTQ community (What if Iowa could protect both religious freedom and LGBTQ rights?).

Unfortunately, the substance of the piece misses the mark by pulling from erroneous source material that equates Utah and Iowa, two states with very different legal and political landscapes. In doing so Obradovich implies, perhaps unintentionally, that LGBTQ Iowans need to start from a place of compromise when their rights and freedoms are threatened.

Continue Reading...

When politicians become assignment editors

For many years, the Des Moines Register regularly published dispatches from Washington on what the Iowans in Congress were doing. Coverage deteriorated after the newspaper laid off Jane Norman in 2008. To my knowledge, no Iowa-based news organization has had a correspondent in the nation’s capital since the Register let Philip Brasher go in 2011.

In a wide-ranging review of the Register’s political reporting four years ago, I commented, “If a member of Congress didn’t brag about it in a press release, conference call, or social media post, the Register’s readers are not likely ever to learn that it happened.”

The newspaper’s recent coverage of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley illustrates that problem.

Continue Reading...

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:

Continue Reading...

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).

Continue Reading...

Strange gatekeeping in first Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa caucus poll

A little more than a year before Iowa Democrats will start the process of selecting a challenger to face President Donald Trump, Selzer & Co has polled likely Democratic caucus-goers for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom. Brianne Pfannenstiel wrote up the key findings from the survey of 455 Iowans “who say they will definitely or probably participate in the 2020 Democratic caucuses.”

The toplines were not surprising, but I was baffled by some of the choices on which candidates to include.

Continue Reading...
View More...