Today’s Courier Herald Column:
The focus of my current trip to Washington D.C. hasn’t been at the nation’s Capitol. The underlying reason for the trip was to participate in Campaigns And Elections Magazine CampaignTech Conference. The two day gathering is designed for campaign professionals, advocates, technologists, and communications professionals to network and learn from peers in the industry.
Thursday afternoon, I was honored to give a “mini keynote” address to the group and receive an award for online advocacy. It was an honor to be recognized by this group as well as to be given the opportunity to address the gathering. The credit, however, goes to many more people than to me.
I was not the founder of Peach Pundit, which is the primary platform of my online activities. That credit goes to Erick Erickson who remains the site’s editor emeritus and Clayton Wagar who remains the publisher. Their track record also includes developing the widely read RedState.com. I merely discovered their creation a bit over a year into its development, and have managed to grow with it.
Others who have been with the site longer than myself include our two assistant editors. Buzz Brockway is one of Georgia’s original political bloggers, but has the much better title of State Representative these days. Jason Pye has also created a prominent online political niche for himself with a scope that extends beyond Georgia with UnitedLiberty.org and JasonPye.com. The credibility they and their reputations bring to our site are largely responsible for how we are perceived today. They remain trusted advisors who I count on for guidance, and good friends.
We have many other contributors who range from political operatives and consultants, activists, students, and partisans from a variety of political and geographic backgrounds. Each of us volunteers time every week to generate content and discussion on state and local political issues of the day. As their “editor” I rarely actually edit anything. My responsibility lies mostly with finding people who are trustworthy that can provide a unique perspective on our political system. The platform is then theirs to do with what they deem appropriate. We all lean on each other a lot for the final product, and each of us takes turns as our schedules of “real jobs” permits to deliver content.
Equally important to our success is the community of commenters and readers who participate with us in that discussion. As a writer, I can now say that seeing immediate feedback on opinions and positions have become an integral part of the product. The members of Peach Pundit’s community are an indispensible part of the platform that has “weaved itself into the fabric” of Georgia Politics, as stated by the Columbia Journalism Review.
Friday morning I’ll be participating on a panel to discuss bloggers roles in politics and campaigns. I participated on a similar panel at last year’s conference, and look forward to this morning’s discussion. Yet I still find it difficult to accept the premise, as many folks who are not bloggers do like to ask questions about us as if the answer is uniform.
Knowing the number of folks who write online that I have come to meet and appreciate, I understand the value of bloggers is in their individuality. There are no one size fits all answers with how to approach, deal with, or influence bloggers. Each of us approach what we do as differently as our final products are. But with that caveat I look forward to the discussion and sharing the unintended journey that has been my experience in the field.
As for those who are reading this on traditional newsprint, you are an equal part of this discussion and a large part of why the award I received was bestowed. Political bloggers at one time seemed to want to be in competition with traditional media. I believe most of us now realize that the relationship between new media and traditional media is much more symbiotic and complementary. Extending the writing I do for an inside-baseball political crowd to readers who spend much less time obsessing over government minutia has been an educational and rewarding experience for me.
Overall, it’s been a nice trip, and it is always an honor to be recognized for hard work. But the reason that any of these efforts matter is because of those of you who are reading this. For that, I say thank you. It’s something that needs to be said more often.