Second of three parts.
The big party conventions are coming soon — the Democratic National Convention kicks off Aug. 25 and the Republican National Convention begins Sept. 1 — and the blogosphere's hack-haves and hack-nots will be all over it. We've already covered two of the area's better political blogs, Sound Politics and Horse's Ass. Here are a couple more to whet your political appetite before the parties start.Slog
Imagine for a moment you're tired of reading political news from an objective source. How can reporters be objective, anyway? You're looking for an alternative voice, a younger voice, a dirtier voice. You're looking for something like Slog, The Stranger's blog.
While the folks at The Stranger may not be a ticket to all that is journalistically holy, their blog is a safe-for-work stop for those looking to read funny, f-bombed posts dedicated to everything from liberal rants to light-rail lessons to commentary about local arts, music, and culture. Think Gawker for hipsters.
At the helm of Slog is The Stranger's editor and syndicated sex columnist, Dan Savage. Fueling some of the blog's funnier and more explicit posts — whether it's responding to graphic letters about sexcapades with sound advice ("Don't have anal sex with someone that is mad at you.") or updating humanity about the inhumanity of pitbulls ÃÂ la "Maul of America" or harping about the Bush administration and HIV — Savage is a profane but hilarious writer. And if you're offended by four-letter words, you'll get no apologies. Like the folks at Horse's Ass, the Savage credo goes something like: We're adults and this is adult language — get used to it.
In a liberal town like Seattle, a progressive voice like The Stranger is an obvious breadwinner. For instance, The Stranger is as pro-bicycle as it gets. The blog was one of the first — and maybe the only — media outlets to defend cyclists involved in the recent Critical Mass fiasco, though the bloggers later wrote that the riders made a "critical error" when they became violent with the driver of a car. Among other things, the folks at Slog are also pro-Democrat, pro-environment, pro-gay marriage, pro-pot, pro-80s movie star politicians, and prO-bama; while they're anti-McCain, anti-Eyman, anti-pit bull, anti-Blue Angels, anti-organized religion, and against abstinence-only education. They're the prototypical liberal progressive Seattle cocktail — with a Capitol Hill twist and an "alt-indie" chaser.
If you're offended by leftward politics, coarse language, libertine living, youthful indiscretion, or in-your-face sexuality, Slog is not for you. The things which make Slog great are also those which make it terrible — they're part of the charm, the entertainment, the mode du discours. Slog may be opinionated. It may be potty-mouthed. But it sure is fun to read — and there's 6.2 million page views per month to prove it. In fact, they wouldn't have it any other way. Writes Erica C. Barnett:
The Stranger has never presented our paper as a source of an "unbiased," "objective" journalism. The Stranger belongs to a long tradition of "advocacy journalism," a type of alternative journalism that goes back to the founding of the Village Voice. There is no explicit distinction between editorial and reporting staff at the Stranger. We write journalism that is accurate and factual but which sometimes has a point of view (although that's by no means always the case).BlueOregon
Like Slog — though maybe without the French — BlueOregon is a liberal blog guaranteed to rile conservative feathers. As Oregonian senior political reporter Jeff Mapes wrote in 2006:
If you're trying to get to the heart of the Oregon political blogosphere, you could start in Kari Chisholm's basement in Southeast Portland.
Chisholm runs what might be Oregon's most successful Internet consulting business for political campaigns. And his BlueOregon.com blog, which he founded with three other Democrats, is probably the most dominant of the dozens of blogs crashing their way into the state's political culture.
While Chisholm says BlueOregon practices "coverage of the news coverage," he's also adamant that the blog's role is to advocate rather than simply educate.
"We're not so much journalists as we are activists," Chisholm says. "The idea for the blog was this: I wanted to be able to sit around the water cooler and talk with my fellow progressives. We're trying to be a part of the larger Oregon political culture. And we're trying to help people pay attention to what's going on."
It's worked so far. With more that 40 contributors — from elected officials to think tank operatives to working hacks — BlueOregon is a bit more than talk around the water cooler. It's more like a shouting match around a water tower. Don't expect a rendition of "Kumbaya," either. While Chisholm claims the blog "isn't interested in the left-right fistfight," the folks at BlueOregon sure tend to put up their dukes whenever U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., says anything. Chisholm has more than 150 posts about Smith's razor-thin race against Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley to prove it.
I mean — have you followed the Oregon Senate race? The race between Jeff Merkley and Gordon Smith is going to be the closest race in the country. Mark my words. It's the one that's most likely to go to a recount. Everyone talks about the blow-outs. I'm more interested in the barn-burners. It could double the record for campaign spending in the state.
BlueOregon, meanwhile, will certainly be around to cover that coverage.NW Republican
While BlueOregon may have harnessed enough contributors to snare liberal readers, NW Republican has carved its own niche among conservatives by leading readers through the backdoor of local political channels.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the blogs's founder, longtime Oregon political insider and activist Ted Piccolo, isn't a stranger to the inner workings of Oregon government. In 1992, he authored a legislative term-limits initiative that was approved by voters but eventually struck down by the state court system. Despite the measure's failure, Piccolo says the political relationships he built over the past two decades have allowed him to "gain access to movers and shakers that some folks don't have."
"Many of them know me and are willing to share information with me," Piccolo wrote in an e-mail to Crosscut. "I had no idea that the blog would take off the way it did. I simply wanted to use my contacts to report on stories with some inside insight and to interject my own opinions."
Don't be alarmed if you can't find Piccolo's opinions on the Web site, however. He blogs under an old nickname from school, "I Am Coyote."
"I started under Coyote because there are always conspiracy theorists out there, or at least some in Oregon, who would have immediately recognized who I was and would have assumed that I was starting the blog with an agenda to run for office or something," he says. "I did not want to spend the early days arguing with conspiracy hawks saying I was someone's mouth piece or something like that."
Today, Piccolo spends most of his time arguing with Democrats, though he's not opposed to taking on the occasional Republican.
"I have also gained a reputation from folks within the [mainstream media] to be willing to be critical of my own party," he says. "Of course, taking on Republicans from time to time has put some strain on relationships. However the honesty in the way we deal with these folks actually helps those relationships in the long run. It's what sets us apart."
For more from the political blogosphere, Crosscut also recommends: 43rd State Blues, Effin' Unsound, Palousitics, NW Progressive, the Oregon Catalyst, Open Government Blog, Red County Washington, Red State Rebels, Ridenbaugh Press, Right Mind, WashBlog, Washington Policy Center Blog, and West Sound Politics.
Next: MSM — bloggers of mainstream media