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Virginia's Political Blogger Pioneers

Here's a piece I've written in the new edition of American Journalism Review looking at the impact that Virginia's political bloggers had on last fall's race for governor.

An update: Most of the blogs I wrote about in this article are still active, though several have changed focus, turning from electoral politics to the business of governing the state. Since the bloggers tend not to be in Richmond, their work since the election feels somewhat more distanced than their campaign coverage, which was very much of the moment and in some cases on the scene. And by my reading, the work on the political blogs since the election has seemed less connected than the very plugged-in feel that they had in the heat of the campaign. Part of that comes from the fact that there are fewer readers and the blogs aren't getting hourly attention from the campaign staffs--that was one of the most exciting aspects of the blogs during the campaign, and you don't see the equivalent amount of attention from legislative staffers on the blogs that you did from campaign workers.

That could well change over time, but for now, I think it's fair to conclude that, as we in the newspaper business learned long ago, there are a lot more readers for campaign coverage than for coverage after the voters have made their picks. Still, bloggers, like news businesses, know that if you're just covering the campaign and not holding the public officials accountable after they're elected, you're not doing the whole job. The trick is to develop the business model and the reporting and writing chops that will bring an audience to the ostensibly drier material.

By Marc Fisher |  February 6, 2006; 7:11 AM ET
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Wow, Mark, you fell for the Ben Tribbett spin, hook, line, and sinker. Let's be clear what the main effect of his site was: it buried his dubious political future. He's now persona non grata with the Fairfax Democrats. Tribbett didn't "back away" from the 41st House seat -- he couldn't raise a dime, and Marsden would have cleaned his clock if he'd pushed ahead. After THAT, Tribbett spent the rest of the campaign attacking Marsden on his site, alluding mysteriously to bad conduct by Marsden that he couldn't discuss until after the election. (Incidentally, when he DID unveil his information, it was astonishingly small, irrelvant, and petty.) He went so far as to issue a ten-point list of reasons to vote for right-wing wacko Michael Golden -- and that list was promptly copied and distributed by the Golden campaign. Tribbett's main function now is to provide a bulletin board for gossip, but his future in politics is ZERO.

Posted by: EqualTime | February 6, 2006 9:21 AM

Huh? Who said anything about this Tribbett guy? What are you talking about?

Posted by: Confused | February 6, 2006 10:17 AM



Posted by: Reading Is Fundamental | February 6, 2006 10:25 AM

I hate when experienced bloggers and chatters give newbies a hard time (it discourages more participation) and make them feel stupid. Let's not yell, your information is helpful without the caps. We're all more experienced in some things than others.

Posted by: Kindness is fundamental too | February 6, 2006 11:38 AM

EqualTime/RIF is Dave Marsden or his wife--two angry, vindictive people who are upset that Ben Tribbett didn't support Marsden's campaign. Perhaps Dave should spend less time attacking a blogger and his former opponent (the campaign's over! your lies worked! get over it!) and focus on reducing child support for criminals--Dave's big bill for the 2006 session!

Great work, Dave!

Posted by: MarsdenSucks | February 6, 2006 12:54 PM

Nice try, there. I didn't realize that Ben had his own little clones. Hard to imagine that a guy who's been reduced to getting coffee for Chap Petersen would have groupies.

Oh, I'm not Marsden or Mrs. Marsden. But feel free to think so, if it makes you feel happier about your life. I mean, how much potential can there be in sitting at the feet of a guy with no political future?

Posted by: EqualTime | February 6, 2006 1:09 PM

I laugh at you because you are so pathetic--bouncing from blog to blog anonymously slandering good people.

I don't worship at anyone's feet, but it's good to know the company Lurch keeps. Spiteful, stupid, and embarrassing.

PS--I love how Marsden stepped right up to defend the right of convicted criminals to reduce their child support payments. More taxes, less support for needy children. Great judgment call! I'm sure glad he didn't sponsor legislation to improve VRE (campaign promise) or reduce property taxes (campaign promise) or address any of the other critical needs facing his district.

Posted by: MarsdenSucks | February 7, 2006 9:39 AM

Whoa, it's not a Ben clone -- it's the man himself! Good to see you, Ben! Keep on attacking Democrats who can actually get elected, and keep on kissing the feet of Democrats who can't!

Posted by: EqualTime | February 7, 2006 11:52 AM

It wasn't me, I don't get up that early. However my email is if equaltime or marsdensucks want to contact me directly.

Posted by: Ben Tribbett | February 7, 2006 5:33 PM

I hear your fear. Now address the bill, please, if you can. Or are you 100% political hack, 0% substance?

Posted by: MarsdenSucks | February 8, 2006 8:17 AM

I realize that Ben has instructed his minions that Marsden's work on this child support bill -- which appears to actually help get money to kids -- is the big issue of the day. Tragically for Ben, nobody else thinks so. It's hard to build a political consensus like that one that has emerged on Ben's lack of a political future. I mean, EVERYBODY agrees on that. Just like everybody agrees that people like Marsden and Gerry Connolly -- people with accomplishments and people who can actually GET ELECTED -- will still be involved in Virginia politics when Ben's down to the night shift in a Las Vegas 7-11.

Posted by: EqualTime | February 8, 2006 12:45 PM

Facts: Marsden's bill rewards convicted felons by helping reduce their child support obligations. It also increases government spending by $2 million each budget cycle.

People in the 41st are already talking about the bill. Ben doesn't have minions, (he doesn't need them when the legislation is as pathetic as Marsden's). But Marsden obviously does, and you are revealing yourselves as a meanspirited, miserable, and ignorant lot.

PS--Connolly's at 37% in the 41st. I sincerely hope you hitch Dave's horse to that cart.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2006 3:07 PM

"People are talking." Fake internal polling numbers. Yeah, you polled Ben and Ben polled you (take it any way you want), sitting around somebody's parents' basement, trying to figure out how to make yourselves relevant. Do you have ANY idea how many fake issues Ben tried to foment to knock down Marsden in last year's election? How'd that work out for Ben? Hell, Golden STILL hasn't stopped smiling from when Ben stopped kissing his rear. I realize that Marsden and Connolly -- you know, real live elected officials -- can't hold a candle to Leslie "Loser" Byrne, Ben's beloved, but they're actually DOING stuff, with jobs and everything, and she's trying to figure out why people like her less the more they see her. And with supporters like Ben, her irrelevance is guaranteed. Just like Ben's.

Posted by: EqualTime | February 8, 2006 3:26 PM

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