I’m going to be on with Tony later this morning to discuss political blogging. I thought I’d start at the very beginning. What is political blogging, and is it for you?
To keep things simple, let’s define political blogging as the act of writing articles about civic affairs. These articles could be editorials designed to persuade, investigative articles that present evidence and/or empirical data, rants, comics, etc. Ultimately the only requirement is that the content of the article addresses something or someone related to policy or politics. Because the act of blogging is largely uncoordinated, unfunded, and is a “bottom-up” style of messaging, political blogging is considered grassroots activism.
So that being said, is this the kind of activism that is for you?
Some of the benefits of blogging as activism:
- Mobility is not required. People who have tight schedules or who have physical trouble moving around and getting to rallies, meetings, etc., find that blogging is an easy way for them to engage in issues that matter to them.
- Blogging is low cost. You do not need big up front investments or lots of gas money in order to blog. There are free platforms such as blogger.com and wordpress.com that allow people to sign up for a blog with a unique name and website address. You can eliminate cost altogether if you can pick up free Internet somewhere.
- People with a small comfort zone usually feel ‘safer’ blogging. Many people want to be active but they do not want to knock on doors, march in parades, attend events, etc. Blogging allows a person to make a potentially powerful contribution. This is a great option for people who might have otherwise have avoided civic engagement.
- People who enjoy writing can find that blogging is a great way to launch a second income.
So maybe blogging is for you? Do you know what you’d like to write about?
Blogging is a uniquely personal experience, and if you are serious about blogging you will find your own voice and follow your own interests. However if you are looking for a place to start, here are some of the more popular ideas:
- Join the 83 County Project and blog about your local politics. Yes I’m pimping my project, but I really believe in the mission of the 83CP. We NEED people to blog about what’s going on in the counties, cities, townships. It’s not as sexy as blogging about Obama v Romney, but there aren’t many people do it.
- Do you have a cause? Are you always talking about clean water, wind energy, public education, organized labor, or some other policy issue? Why not write about it? Build up a body of work that presents your research and opinion, so that you can refer people to your blog. Additionally, your blog has the potential to reach people you never get to personally meet, so you are extending your ability to influence other.
- Relevant people. We have some real movers & shakers who need to be tracked, the most obvious being Governor Snyder. He has already said he’s going to run for re-election, but we don’t have a blog up about him. We need to be carefully tracking what he says and does. This doesn’t mean that you start a blog to smear people you don’t like; that isn’t activism, that’s just internet garbage.
Alternatively you can start a blog to support someone. BFM got its start by supporting Governor Granholm’s platform, because a handful of us bloggers didn’t feel that she was being supported. We wanted a progressive economy in Michigan, and we believed our best hope for that was Governor Granholm’s budget. So although we regularly beat on the Republican obstructionists, we were also focused on presenting supportive information for the Governor’s policy proposals.
- Party politics is another under-reported issue. What does a precinct delegate do? Why should people get involved in the party? What is a block captain? A field trainer? These are important things that just don’t get discussed enough.
At this point you are probably in one of three stages:
- Best: Yes, blogging is for me!! (hurray!)
- Good: Well, I don’t know, I might maybe could try it. (hurray!)
- Not Good: Not my cup of tea. (sad face)
If you are in the Good or Best stages, keep reading. If you are in the Not Good stage, I appeal to you to upgrade to the Good stage, and keep reading.
Great! You’ve decided to try it out. What do we do now?
First, think about your blogging name. How will you identify yourself? Will you be anonymous? Will you have a nick name but not be anonymous? Will you use your real name?
Depending on your confidence level, you can either
- Join a blog like BFM or DKos Michigan.
- Create a throw-away blog where you can practice and screw up and delete later if you want. Nobody cares what happens to this blog, so it’s a great way to get started.
- Start a blog that you intend to be your long-term blogging home.
Start blogging! Write your articles, polish ‘em up a bit, and get them published.
Make it happen! Trade links, comment on other blogs, promote your blog with social, like Twitter and Facebook.
And welcome to our world. Big hugs!