The Next Generation in Progressive Blogs: A Regional Blogosphere
by philgoblue, Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 10:39:18 AM EDT
Come On Up For The Rising: West Michigan's New Progressive Blog Is Launched!
We invite you to check out the next wave in progressive blogging -- West Michigan Democratic, progressive, populist and partisan blog: West Michigan Rising.
Toward a the Next Wave -- Regional Blogs
Progressive blogging began back in 2001 when Jerome Armstrong founded MyDD back in 2001, and really took off in mid-2003 when recently founded DailyKos started to take off in popularity in combination with the Dean campaign. These were national blogs and tackled mostly presidential campaigns, the US congress, and certain high-profile Senate (Obama, Lamont, Tester, Webb, etc) and some House campaigns, but not most...
The second wave of progressive blogging brought the phenomenon into individual states. In my state, MichiganLiberal was founded in the fall of 2005 and gained prominence in the runup to the 2006 elections. And Michigan was one of the earlier states to form a state-wide community blog with other states adding large community blogs, on interactive platforms like Soapblox throughout 2006 with full 50-state numbers being reached only in 2007. Most of the founders and early users of MichLib and other state-wide blogs were originally DailyKos users who found each other their and eventually created the idea of "DailyKos for our state." State-wide blogs cover capital politics, governor races, US Senate and House races, major state Senate races and some state House races.
So, now, I think it's time for intra-state regional blogs. We're the grandchildren of the blogosphere -- the next generation. The founders of WMR -- me (Phil), Lisa, Mark and Adam -- started out as national-issue bloggers, found there way to state-wide blogs like MichLib and Blogging for Michigan, identified each other and collaborated to found what, as far as we can tell, is only the first, second or third strong-platform, community blog covering a region within a state (if we're wrong, please tell us we want to know of others out there). Obviously, we don't replace either the first-generation national blogs or the second-generation state-wide blogs, we are just a part of the deepening of their work. At our level we can cover issues and races that state-wide blogs really don't cover much -- State House races, County Commission races, city elections, and local issues. Now it's time for these campaigns and issues to be covered from an alternative, progressive point-of-view. So, we're "Michigan Liberal for West Michigan." In this presidential campaign we've seen what Dean-Trippi taught us in 2004 come to fruition, but the nexus of the netroots and grassroots can really come together on the local level. This is where the farm team is built.
And in our two months of beta we've already gained tremendous support and respect from our state-wide blogs. Eric at MichiganLiberal just yesterday called us "the best regional community blog ... ever" (I took out the "probably" part so it looks better, don't tell anyone).
So, if you're from West Michigan or if you are intrigued by the idea and might think about forming a regional group blog come over and check us out at WMR.
What's Your Goal?
As part of the new wave of intra-state regional blogs West Michigan Rising will be a
* Clearing-house to get news out to activists about events and help create and mobilize Democratic and progressive activists.
- Advocate for our candidates and report on campaigns (emphasizing State House and Senate spots, but also County and City Commissions and other county and city offices).
- Provider of commentary on local issues and report on events, meetings, etc.
- Publicizer of those topics -- the Democratic Party at the county and congressional district level, labor, city and county politics and government, etc -- that are largely left out of local newspapers
- Publicizer of the record of West Michigan Democrats and encourage them to be more progressive.
- Helper to build our County Parties.
- Encourager for local parties to get more involved with the blogosphere and expand their utilization of the internet.
- Watchdogs of local Republicans.
In short, we want to turn yard-sign Democrats who will be interested in getting daily news on Democratic politics into informed grassroots activists who will get Democrats elected at the city, county and state level and push those electeds to be as progressive as possible.
And, in that sense, we may have a slightly different emphasis from the motherships of the Michigan blogosphere. I think we'll follow more of Markos' dictate that his, and now our, blog is "a Democratic blog." Now, folks that know me and the front-pagers that are and will be brought on will know that we're not blind followers of the state or local parties, but we are committed to them as the vehicle to move our region and the state in a progressive direction. We'll remain critical when we feel it's in the best interests of the movement, but we're all on the same side (we're not interested in just throwing bombs).
The Vision Thing
Eventually, we want WMR to be a clearing-house for information, commentary, reporting and community discussion. We want activists in West Michigan and our candidates and electeds to be regular readers (in the way that those people in Lansing regularly read MichLib and BFM). Right now many county parties have weak websites, and little sense of community, labor is only starting to think about ways to use the blogs, activists are organized in a hodge-podge of advocacy groups and ad hoc email lists, and newspapers have long cut the labor beat and have trimmed the local politics beat to bare-bones. We think a high quality blog could really go a long way to organizing partisan progressives in West Michigan. We hope it'll get us united.
In short, we think there's a real opening here in West Michigan at this time. In many ways, for some good, but increasingly outdated, reasons, we've been largely ignored by the state party and we hope that a good blog can help give our county parties and candidates the exposure (and allow them to learn from each other) to encourage the MDP to see that things are going on here and candidates can be elected from the west side. We think we can also be part of a communication tool that can give folks ideas on how to Party and movement build.
We want to empower, elect and grow Democrats and progressives in West Michigan.
Why West Michigan and why "Rising"?
West Michigan because we live here.
"Rising" because there is a sense on our side of the state that our history of being the conservative belt of Michigan is in the process of becoming our past and no longer our present (for example, ten years ago the Grand Rapids City Commission was dominated by Republicans, now, though officially non-partisan, all seven members are now Democrats or at least liberals). We in the netroots want to do our part to help facilitate the Rising of West Michigan Democrats and Progressives in the coming years. West Michigan is ready for a Democratic, progressive, populist and partisan blog.
What have you been up to the last two months while you were in beta?
We launched in beta on 20 February and since then have been trying to develop a track-record of what we can do so that when new folks like you stop by, you can look around the site and see what we'll be doing here in the coming years.
We're real happy with the progress we've made. In just 60 days: we and our users have written 148 diaries, we have 87 registered users, average about 110 unique visitors a day (most aren't registered, but we hope they all will soon), and have already built a nice community of a core of users which we hope will grow and grow. We're already the third biggest progressive blog in Michigan.
We hear that this growth is significantly faster than even MichiganLiberal had back in 2005. In short, with your help, we might be on to something here.
We hope all of you will sign up for usernames and put us on your daily reading lists.
I'll have a post later today highlighting what you might have missed if your new to WMR.
Come on up for the Rising and together we'll do our part to build a left coast here in Michigan.
-- Phil, Lisa, Mark and Adam
Cross-posted in full at West Michigan Rising (and at MichiganLiberal and DailyKos).