On a mailing list on the future of journalism that I’m a member of, a person recently sent an email about this article on DailyKos about where people get their sources for diaries on DailyKos.
Kos notes that less than 20% of the primary sources are from newspapers. Other important sources include Advocacy organizations, Political trade press, Government, and campaigns. This seems to reinforce the idea of blogs, at least DailyKos is an echo chamber repeating what they’ve heard from groups trying to push out their message.
Another stereotype of bloggers is that many of them are people that sit at home typing on their computers, but don’t actually get out and do primary research or get involved in local politics. Aspects of this criticism comes out in the comments to Kos’ post.
The first comment, which was also the most highly rated comment observed,
"the thing about newspapers is they have reporters that go to the city council meetings, the school board meetings, the planning commission meetings, the high school sports events, the church easter egg hunt. That is what we will be losing out on, that local coverage that doesn't come from alternative media. It is that mundane stuff that affects people's lives more than ever changing cable news and blog chatter.
This generated a great discussion. People noted that a lot of local newspapers do really poor jobs of covering local news, and small towns often never have anyone covering important meetings.
One person noted,
It's one thing to go to the meetings. It's another to read the agendas and build contacts between you and the councilors and other government types.
It's a huge time investment to do it right. It's a lot more than just an afternoon trip to an hour-long meeting.
Yet this is what local elected officials do. If we want to have an effect, we need to spend the time reading the minutes and agendas of local meetings. We need to spend the time getting to know our local elected officials and having meaningful discussions about what is best for our communities. If we had more bloggers doing this, it would go a long way to dispel the notion of bloggers are armchair critics that never really get anything done.
So, what are you going to do to improve government and the local coverage of it in your area?