Friday, October 9, 2009

Working hard while hardly working.

Having given up my pseudo-political blogging (most would say "thank God") I've had a little bit of time to read the other political writing in Houston. One thing that I've noticed is that the baseline seems to be getting lower and lower by the day.

For example: Candidate financial disclosures. For a long time reviewing these was just considered "part of the job"* for poli-bloggers and Metro columnists. No longer it seems:

Mayoral Musings with Nancy Sims:
Money, Honey – I have taken some time to review the reports.

Chronblog's Rick Casey:
I pored over more than 700 pages of campaign finance reports filed late Monday afternoon by the three major mayoral candidates.
OK, poring over reports is one thing, actually taking action on what you find is something entirely different. Whether or not you subscribe to Charles Kuffner's politics, when he researches, follows up, and puts in the legwork on posts like this (as opposed to long quotes of others) you understand why his blog appears on political blog lists everywhere. As with his interviews, these posts are reflective of what campaign finance reporting should be.

From a different angle, Slampo's many background pieces on the candidates and their donors provide much-needed context to the numbers found within. Also of note are John Cobarruvias' "spending campaign cash" series of posts.

It's true, except in the case of Slampo, these nuggets of good blogging are found hidden within numerous posts that are of little value or so poorly written as to be unreadable. (or so biased in nature that they will turn most readers off) However, given the state of local politics coverage in the mainstream media**, it's worth it to hunt out these more obscure writings in order to get a better overall picture of the funding, and relationships, behind the candidates that are running for office.




*It should be noted that, for hobby bloggers, the 'job' is an unpaid one, so don't expect the same level of prose and editing that you find in the big publications.

**It should also be noted that some members of MSM don't think there's anything wrong with the coverage they're providing. They feel that they are doing enough and that their value-add is superior to what hobby bloggers and non-profits are adding to the discussion. I have my opinion, I'll leave it up to you to make your own. (My criticism deemed 'not credible' due to my lack of funds to hire a professional copy editor) *I still freely accept pro-bono editing in the comments however All corrections will be given proper credit of course.*

5 comments:

  1. MSM paying attention to campaign finance connections: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6661065.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. ** when he researches, follows up, and puts in the legwork on posts like this (as opposed to long quotes of others) you understand why his blog appears on political blog lists everywhere. **

    Agreed.

    That's why I can't help but wonder why 80-85% of the posts are just filled with serial copyright abuse (which is what I consider 7-12 graf rips with minimal, if any attribution and minimal value add beyond "we'll see what happens", to be). Is it a deliberate effort to game google to generate traffic based on other people's work, or is there that much thought process behind it?

    I can't say I haven't done the same thing (it's easy, to be sure!), but that doesn't mean it's what any of us SHOULD be doing with our blogs. And frankly, I'm not sure why the owners of the material let people steal it so freely.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ** MSM paying attention to campaign finance connections: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6661065.html **

    Buried in the Saturday edition, on B5, between legal notices and a life insurance ad.

    Michael, perhaps you can explain why the editors of that fine publication BURIED one of the few non-superficial* analyses it's done on the mayor's race?

    That placement just SCREAMS that such work is not valued by the newspaper. Why? Got any answers?

    * By non-superficial, I mean coverage that goes beyond WHAT IS EXPECTED BY A MAJOR METRO DAILY. I believe tracking down where the money of special interests is going is very much the bare minimum a newspaper should be doing. Now, their work on Wolff's non-soliciting meeting took it to the next level. That was a good get. Too bad it was buried on little-read pages in a little-read Saturday edition.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kevin, you surprise me. I thought you only read the paper online! I can't explain the placement in print, but the story was in a prominent position on Chron.com when it went up. The point of posting the link was to question the assertion that the Chronicle is blowing off labor-intensive enterprise reporting on the municipal election. If the paper didn't value such work it wouldn't be published.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "The point of posting the link was to question the assertion that the Chronicle is blowing off labor-intensive enterprise reporting on the municipal election."

    Good!! And I hope that they keep doing it. This was a good story by the Chron, I hope one of many. Despite this I still think you're being out-hustled by the so-called "new" media on several fronts.

    Now, to be fair, much of this probably has to do with resources. After the latest round of layoffs reporters are stretched way too thin.

    As I stated in the post: Everyone's going to have their own opinion of what is an acceptable amount of enterprise reporting done on the part of ChronBlog. It's probably telling that many readers (and bloggers) feel that ChronBlog is falling short while staffers feel that everything is a-ok. I'm not sure what it tells, but it tells.

    ReplyDelete

Comment Policy:Any comment containing profanity or presonal attacks will be disallowed. Repeated violations will get you marked as SPAM. Real name is preferred, fake names will be carefully considered before being allowed. If your on-line moniker is so widely known as to be a clear identifier, that's OK too. If your comment doesn't appear, give it some time. I do have a day job.

Sports Section