Blogging the City
I was in a meeting yesterday at the NYSDC - see below - wearing my other hat, NDM Director. Several people approached me afterwards and seemed quite intrigued with this whole blogging thing. So, for the general benefit, here's my personal overview of New York City blogdom. Other bloggers, by all means, please chime in.
The odd thing about the City blogging scene - as opposed to, say, national blogs - is that it is focused on newspaper-published blogs, chief among them probably Ben Smith's Daily Politics. There are others, such as The Politicker, put out by the New York Observer and the present home of Azi Paybarah. The most obvious consequence of this is a studied political neutrality, or perhaps more accurately (because the writers do betray their biases on occasion) a lack of the fierce partisanship that characterizes the national blogs like Daily Kos (or its faint imitation on the dark side, Redstate.com). The truly partisan blogs are probably the one you're reading right now, on the side of all that is good and right, and our quasi-counterpart over on the other side, Urban Elephants.
In terms of political utility as an organizing tool, I'd guess that the truly partisan blogs haven't quite lived up to their potential yet. This is in part due to the fact that such organizing is best done, in my mind, by political organizations such as NDM and DFNYC. The value of partisan blogs, as far as I can tell, lies mainly in thier ability to rapidly distribute information and feed it back to the mainstream media - which happens all the time.
There are also, just to round that off, the multi-partisan (and quite excellent) blog Room Eight, and several issue-focused blogs like The Atlantic Yards Report or the Drum Major Institute's DMI Blog. More can be found on our blogroll, which you'll find if you scroll down and across just a little bit.
If I had to name the most striking thing about New York City blogs, it's the number, variety and individuality of the personalities who write them, more often than not anonymously. That leads inescapably to Gatemouth over on Room Eight, whose views I may or may not share from time to time, but who is read by myself and quite a few others. Also on Room Eight is Rock Hackshaw, who writes about the black political scene; There's Karol Scheinin over at Alarming News, whom I tend to disagree with, but who probably stands as the best writer among bloggers when style is considered. A cornucopia, truly, and my apologies to anyone whom I've left out.
So, what do all of us pixel-stained wretches amount to? That's a very good question, and one that I've often pondered.
First of all, who reads this stuff and how? You'll notice at the foot of this posting is a number of 'reads', in some cases embarassingly small. Forget that number. This blog, at least, mainly gets read via RSS, so I'd estimate that we get thousands of reads a week.
As to impact, I'd point to two examples. There's a story you may have heard of in the news, about one Alan Hevesi; that originated on Urban Elephants. Kudos on execution, Scott.
The second example is to be found in the blame, or praise, I'm personally getting for, and I quote, "single-handedly derailing David Yassky". I don't personally take such an optimistic view of that, but the fact is that if you google David Yassky - save yourself the typing, click here - the first entry after his campaign and city council sites is a piece I wrote. Add into that the constant, well-deserved beating he was getting here, and yes, there was likely some impact, certainly in a close race.
So I'd say what we write here in blogdom has an impact. The measure and weight of that is debatable, but it is there.