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I'm going to be launching a local explanatory news site, focusing on the Atlanta area, in the early spring.  I've been setting up the web infrastructure, looking at revenue models, and the other boring housekeeping things necessary to having a good launch.

Now I'm beginning to think more carefully about the general outlines of content, and would like feedback from any of you who have opinions on local news.  I have a lengthier explanation of the questions here  but I don't care if you answer on my site or under the diary here.  I'll come back here to read answers.

I'm trying to avoid assumptions about how people read or use local news, and to directly ask as many people as possible about their preferences for subject matter.  Obviously local newspapers are not doing very well financially at the moment, and I'd like to think that it's possible to create content that is compelling enough for people to return regularly.

The questions are:

What topics do you think are not getting adequate coverage by local news media?

What is the first thing you read when you look at media which covers local news?  (for example: sports?  politics? entertainment? self-improvement articles?)

What topics would you read regularly if someone offered them on a consistent basis?

These questions are just the beginning to see if I get strong responses.  Later I'm going to put together a less informal survey.


A few weeks ago I wrote a short article entitled The moral argument for setting up an Underground Railroad for Central American Children.  I festooned it with somewhat tongue-in-cheek disclaimers that I wasn't advocating that it really be done, because anyone would be stupid to openly write about breaking laws which potentially carry stiff penalties.

Tongue-in-cheek or not, protecting refugees who are showing up on our border, whether they are fleeing danger of violence, or grinding poverty, is something that a nation as rich as we are should take for granted.  It's insane that the debate in a practical sense has become whether we deport them quickly or slowly.  It's also insane that, in order to make the point in a compelling way, we have to focus on the children alone, and not on refugees of any age from violence and poverty.

Actually setting up such a network would be a mammoth undertaking, requiring careful planning and a great deal of risk.  It would be much better to put pressure legally, within the political system.  But for reasons of electoral politics, sanctuary doesn't even seem to be on the table in the mainstream discussion.

I have no intention of taking first practical steps on this in the immediate future.  But the moral argument for bypassing the political gridlock altogether is a good one, and I think it needs to be articulated.


Dylan Byers wrote an article entitled Vox not living up to the hype, explained.  The title pretty much sums up the content.  It's been getting a lot of mostly negative attention from journalists who cover the state of the media, a number of whom have pointed out that a five month old news site which has been steadily growing in popularity (and which passed Politico this month in unique visitors) would be hard to call a failure.

I think the article is about more than, though.  I've written a more extensive critique of the article here,  but to sum it up, Byers writes a few paragraph in which unnamed journalists and editors are asserted to have stated that nothing was new about Vox.  The tone of that part of the article could be summed up as "Get off my lawn!!!!".

My read on the article is that it's really about the anxiety the traditional print media is feeling about the rise of the web-only news media.  Revenues are plunging in all traditional media, but newpapers and news magazines are being hit particularly hard.  There is an undercurrent of resentment that the best known writers in print media are moving toward web-only publications, and the Byers article seems to reflect that resentment.

The issue of whether the "cards" on Vox are a novel approach is a red herring.  I don't think any of the writers there have ever claimed that explanatory journalism was a new and unique invention.

But the Byers article has the phantom industry insiders constructing that straw man.


Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:20 AM PST

loosely moderated new subreddit

by larryfeltonj

I've set up a subreddit, Polit, largely as a result of the ham-handed banning of widely read political sites by the existing /r/politics subreddit.  I don't have any illusions that it's going to be comparable to /r/politics, and people advocating the removal of the bans there should continue to do so.  But I've started by posting articles from sources banned by /r/politics.  I'm going to be moderating as loosely as I can without being overwhelmed with net vandalism.  

I'm seeding the site with articles from the banned sites, both from the left and the right, because as a progressive I think it's important to look at interesting articles from all parts of the political spectrum.


Jason Spencer and Charles Gregory, two House Members (presumably from the towns of Wackaloon and Tinfoil, GA) have put forward legislation allowing Georgia to "nullify" federal legislation.  For those of you weak on Civil War history, nullification was a theory propounded by southern slaveholders who were resisting attempts to limit slavery's spread prior to the Civil War.

The bill is HB 352 2013-2014 Regular Session.

I hope that the potential national ridicule and comparisons to defense of slavery that would ensue if the bill were enacted into law will cause the bill to die a quick death.

As entertaining as the antics of the Georgia legislature are, I'd like to wake up one morning and not read a story about stupid and insane Georgia legislation.


This was previously posted on my blog Bluestate Georgia

The Georgia GOP, like the national GOP would really like to shake the widely held observation that they are the party of older white men.  They don't want to make changes in their attitudes toward minorities, but they'd like to present a better public relations face.  They would love to stamp out the White House watermelon patch post cards, Obama food stamp cartoons, witch doctor cartoons and t-shirts, and racist conspiracy theories which swirl around in the GOP base like an uncontrollable maelstrom.

At the same time RNC chair Rince Priebus was meeting with African-American Republicans in Atlanta, the Douglas County GOP was denying a seat at the GOP's state convention to the chair of the Georgia Black Republican Council.  The incident is summarized in this article, with updates, from Political Insider, Jim Galloway's column and blog at the AJC

A short summary is that on a 3-2 racially split vote, the Douglas County GOP board denied Michael McNeely a seat at the convention.  Due to the ensuing embarrassment and "bad optics", as someone called it, the state party overruled the vote of the Douglas County GOP (the details on how this was done are not clear to me at this time).

Douglas County is a county on the verge of turning blue.  The non-Hispanic white population of the county is in decline, and has dropped to 48.5 % as of the 2010 census.  Furthermore Obama won the county in 2008 and 2012.  The county is on the verge of becoming solidly Democratic.  The changing demographics combined with behavior like this from the GOP will likely speed up this transition and make it irreversible.


I decided to float a local project I'm working on, to see if people who follow the Kos Georgia tag are interested.  It isn't inately either a progressive or Democratic issue (in fact I count on getting people of a wide political spectrum involved in the project), although it does touch on environmental and smart growth issues.

There is a three mile Cobb county stretch of the Silver Comet trail which has not been completed.  It runs from the beginning of the trail at Mavell Road, to the PATH trail on the opposiite side of the Chattahoochee at the South Atlanta Road bridge.

PATH has already completed the link under the bridge.  When (or if) that three mile section is completed there will be a continuous mixed use trail from Alabama to the Beltline in Atlanta.

I'm on the board of the River Line Historic Area, which is mostly involved in environmental and historic preservation issues in the section of the river bordering Mableton, Smyrna, and Vinings.  We've decided to take on the completion of the trail as one of our primary projects.

I'd be particularly interested in getting cyclists, environmentalists, and people involved in smart growth involved in this.  Most of the political heavy lifting will have to be done here in Cobb County, but the finished trail will benefit the entire region.

Anyone interested in this?


This is the text of a blog post I did on Bluestate Georgia.

A story ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning entitled Tough Times at Georgia Gwinnett College.

As a Georgian I saw nothing unusual about the story.  The weak commitment to education of the Republican majority in Georgia is leading to devastating cuts in yet another institute of higher learning here.

What interested me was the comments below the article.  One commenter blamed the cuts on “the underprivileged”.  Another comment blamed it on immigrants.

Progressives in Georgia absolutely have to take an in-your-face approach to both the cuts themselves, and the bigotry which gets stirred up when the issue arises.

Continue Reading

Even though I've had a twitter account for a few years, it's only been in the past few months that I've made extensive use of twitter.  (if you want to check out that usage, I'm @larryfeltonj there as well)

Recently an account and hashtag was set up nominally to protect progressives against "spam blocking", and in response to #TGDN, the lunatic right's equivalent project.

I'm skeptical about spam blocking as a primary reason for spending a lot of energy on lists and hashtags.  But #UniteBlue has turned into a very interesting and useful means of connecting progressives on twitter.  Other lists and hashtags have tried to do the same, but #UniteBlue seems to have gotten further, and yesterday helped to get the hashtag #SaveUSPS trending.  In and of themselves hashtags are an echo chamber, but as a platform to convince people to take real world action they could be an excellent platform.  At minimum members on  #SaveUSPS were being encouraged to go to their rep's website and send an email.

I've written much more extensively on twitter usage in this tumblr blog post.

If you are a twitter user and haven't checked out and thought about @UniteBlue / #UniteBlue yet, you should do so.


I've browsed youtube to come up with theme music for Paul Broun's campaign for US Senate, and have found something with the gravitas appropriate to Broun.


I just received a fundraising appeal in the mail from Broun for Senate.  It lives up to Broun's goal to stake out a position on the crazy wing of the Georgia GOP.  He calls Obama a Marxist-Leninist, praises Jim Demint, Rand Paul, and Allen West, and makes an appeal for support from Ron Paul's followers.

Think I should send him a donation?


I don't usually do multiple diaries in one day, but a number of things caught my attention this morning.  One, with great comedic possibilities, is a Redstate artilcle entitled  Tea Party 2.0: Focus on the 4 R’s & Fight Back . The article actually makes some good observations, including a proposal that the now toxic tea party name be dropped.  The solutions proposed in the artlcle are where the hilarity comes in..

For instance, the article points out:


To make matters worse, the Tea Party movement has an attrition problem called age.

    All-too-often, Tea Party meeting attendees are grandparents fighting to save America’s future for their grandchildren. Yet, the grandchildren are nowhere to be found. Why?


The solution proposed by the article?


If you’re fighting for your kids’ future, get your kids involved—and have them bring some friends.
This has an enormous number of  possibilities for comic awkwardness at family gatherings.  Imagine being a twenty-something, and your grandparents take you aside and ask “We’d like for you to come to our meeting of angry septuagenarians ranting about Obamacare and Agenda 21 over Chik-Fil-A sandwiches.”

The Tea Party is, after all, in aggregate, the crazy old racist grandparent or aunt posting chain emails about conspiracy theories on facebook.  The twenty year old is the young embarrassed relative who doesn’t want to unfriend the crazy older relative, but wishes they’d find another hobby.

I've written more about this on Blue State Georgia , but this excerpt covers the funniest aspect of the Redstate article.

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