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December 27, 2005

Something's Happening – Washblog in Transition

If you haven’t noticed, there are some interesting goings-on over at Washblog lately and more is coming.  Over the last year, Brian Moran has invited several fine writers and activists to write on the blog – Noemie Maxwell and Arthur Ruger amongst others.  He always wanted to have a large group of folks writing for Washblog but found, as many of us have, that it is hard to get folks to participate who don’t like to be in the limelight.  They may have an opinion and good ideas but they don’t have a good forum to share it in.  They can comment on what others have written but that is just reacting to what someone else has written.  It may not be the subject they actually want to write about.

To facilitate a more community-based blog, Brian decided to change platforms to go to what is called a Scoop-based platform, which is what DailyKos uses, because it encourages more folks to join in the conversation or start their own conversation.  Then, in October, he talked with folks from the Seattle Kos group who were thinking about creating their own community blog and proposed that they come in with him to make Washblog a community-based blog.  They have done much of the planning and will be going over to Scoop very soon. 

This is going to get very interesting.

We in the Northwest progressive blogosphere are rapidly creating a number of interesting places for people to go to get their progressive news and to learn about what they can do to get involved in electing Democrats and changing policies that matter to them.  There’s the NW Portal, Horse’s Ass, Evergreen Politics, Orcinus, Blatherwatch, our friends in Oregon and Idaho and now Alaska, and maybe 200 more.  Collectively, we are facing down the Republicans by exposing their unconscionable and ridiculous actions.  Then we are also pushing the Democrats, partly by covering their backs and partly by calling them to be bolder and more organized.  Now, with the new Washblog, we will also have something like a community coffee house to hold conversations. 

I’ve been talking to Brian about his plans and also checked in with one of the informal leaders of the Seattle Kos gang, who goes by the name of Switerblog when he writes on the blogs. 

Here’s a few questions I asked them in separate interviews.  First to Brian:

Q:  What do you see happening at Washblog in the next year or two?

BM: In the near term, my focus will be on the legislative session and on expanding coverage to Eastern Washington. 

Personally, now that the blog is more of a partnership and many more people are already writing on it, I have time to focus on other things – working with the Institute for Washington’s Future and getting more progressives elected. 

Q:  What would you like to see in the NW progressive blogsphere? 

BM:  The blogs are a key piece of the liberal infrastructure we are building.  I see our collective focus on raising awareness.  But I’d like to see this being more sustainable.  We need to find a way to generate revenues and create a progressive marketplace, like Air America is beginning to do.  I’d like us to find a way to support a few good bloggers financially.  It would make a world of difference to the development of the infrastructure and in moving the regional conversation where we want it to go. 

Q:  What are the kinds of people you’d like to bring into your Washblog community?

BM: Well, folks like Noemie Maxwell and Arthur Ruger who are already writing for Washblog.  Noemie is helping establish and grow the Institute for Washington’s Future – working to develop three community forums this next year on issues of longer term importance to educating and uniting progressives.  Arthur provides a national aspect to the blog.  He brings in the local angle on the Iraq War, particularly when he relayed what his wife, Lietta, was doing down in Crawford with Cindy Sheehan last August.  Lately he has been reporting on the Weyerhaeuser plant closures in Cosmopolis and elsewhere. 

Thank you.

And on to Switerblog:

Q:  First, about this candidacy of yours for Party Chair?

SB:  Well, to me it was obvious that it was a faux candidacy all along.  But not everyone understood that.  I was planning on carrying this through the election but just recently changed my mind.  I realized the candidacy was confusing some people so I’ve called it off.

Q: Sorry about that.  I think you would have been pretty good. So, back to Washblog.  What’s the background on your involvement with Washblog?

SB: SeattleKos had formed informally with folks who wrote on DailyKos like Seattle Liberal and Kathy Pelish and McJoan and me.  We wanted a lot more organization than we had so we started a Yahoo group and began keeping track of who was involved.  So, we’re individually posting diaries on DailyKos and then writing about them on the yahoo group.  It just seemed like maybe we could have our own blog and post on local politics. 

We were dealing with the question of what to name it when Brian came along and said he was doing something similar and was going to Scoop.  So we took him up on his offer and all moved over to Washblog, making it our local landing pad.  Some of us are already posting over there; others are waiting for diaries rather than going onto the Front Page. 

Q:  Where do you see it going?

SB:  The rough idea is to have a local version of Kos.  Initially we were thinking maybe we’d get to 200-300 people who posted on it but the way things are going already, I would guess we’d get past that fairly quickly.

Along with Goldy, we were right on top of the Voter Registration issue and it was clear that the Democratic Party and other blogs were watching us.  So we may be poised for a lot of growth.

Q:  What do you see as the challenges?

SB:  The biggest question for me is what we can get from the eastern side of the state.  We are going to do some serious recruiting over there.  At this point, almost no matter how the subject of East and West is initially addressed, it gets couched in generalizations and slams one side to the other and produces the inevitable flame wars. 

Q:  What is your role in all of this?

SB:  I seem to be the organizer.  I just fell into the roll since no one else was doing it.  I’ve come to be the group leader and people look to me to keep it organized. 

Q:  Is McJoan (one of the new front pagers for DailyKos) an active part of your group?

SB:  She has been.  She is from Seattle but has lately been spending a lot of time in Portland with family matters.  We are hoping she will have time to join us in discussing the local angle of issues.  But we have other stars and many hidden assets, people like Israelhand who have just started writing at Washblog. 

Thanks.  I am looking forward to this.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 27, 2005 at 08:35 AM in Inside Baseball, Interviews, Media | Permalink

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