Sorry about the lack of posts this morning but Steve Ross and I were on the radio talking about political blogging with Memphis’ Reginald Milton and Thaddeus Matthews. Van Turner and Lexie Carter who host the Eye On Memphis show on KWAM 990, were lovely and congenial in talking about how blogs and politics can work together quite well.
I’ll let Ross fill you in on the specifics of the Shelby County discussion that occurred regarding races as I’m still learning about Memphis politic. I have to say I learned more in an hour about the local infrastructure just by listening to the passion from this passionate group of people.
Both Lexie and Van discussed how blogs are changing the political landscape, not only in Memphis, but everywhere and the discussion moved into that finally people are starting to see its value. Matthews talked about the (being political bloggers) need for branding ourselves as we are breaking more stories than we used to. I concur with him. It’s important, especially in this day and age of instant communication, that bloggers manage their product, which of course is their personal blogs.
I have always thought that political blogs are a lot like the new version of Letters to the Editor, which Sean Braisted also referenced last week when he spoke about the same issue in Nashville at Vanderbilt University which we also discussed during the hour show.
Milton also referenced the responsibility that political bloggers need to have, especially after Turner spoke of commenters sometimes going off task after a story or a blog post. I agree with Milton, political blogs do have a responsibility and one thing I wanted to add but we ran out of time was that there are different types of political bloggers. There are activists, advocates, blogs that are either left or right leaning but discuss other issues and then there are those specifically designed to push a political agenda. They all have their place in the blogging spectrum. The key to remember is that instant commenting can also be of value for elected leaders or community organizers to get immediate feedback, especially on a controversial topic. One may have to weed through the comments, but usually there are some ideas and responses that can help the community.
Blogs, as well as comments, give a voice in the online age that was not available in the past. And I think we all need to quote Milton when he said the Rep. Steve Cohen/Willie Herenton race was going to be “The Thrilla in Manila” as we got into more specific issues with Carter adding “This race is going to be bloody.” My contribution was basically that I’ve learned over the last few years in observing Memphis from outside the glass is there is no polite in Memphis politics, which I personally think is rather refreshing at times because it is a different forum that I’m used to. In Memphis, you know where your opponent stands at any given moment.
It was a lively and spirited discussion and it is good to see community leaders such as Turner, who is the current chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party, and Memphis delegate/Democratic advocate Carter recognizing this new age of communication and focusing on the positive benefits of how passion for the party and blogging can be beneficial and inclusive to each other.
On a final note, our thoughts are with Steve Steffens this morning who couldn’t make the show due to illness. Get better LWC.