The need for more political blogging in Calgary
Rewind 3-4 years ago, Calgary had a very active political blogging community. At the height of the 2010 municipal election, there were multiple blog posts daily and CalgaryPolitics.com was the place for up to the minute election news. A quick analysis shows the number of city-related posts that were written in 2012 by some of the blogs that have persevered long after my previous blog came to a grinding halt:
Alberta Altruist: 0
Voices of Grant: 2
The reality is that bloggers have busy lives to lead and have continued to do amazing community work, but the online political blogging community is a little quieter these days.
So why do we need them back? Here are a few thoughts:
Dialogue, humour, and respect
I’ve been out of the political blogging scene for about 3 years now, but one of the things I started to find was a lack of blog and social media posts that had coherent and respectful arguments about a certain issue. The opposition of an issue would berate and belittle the other side without any basic conversation etiquette at all. While there is not much hope in reading the comments in a newspaper article because of a lack of real moderation, I have been surprised by the conversation on Twitter over the years since 2010. There were so-called “hawk-bots”, accounts made specifically to support mayoral candidate Bob Hawkesworth in 2010, that would troll, and as Kirk Schmidt best described, “often were also quite negative and rarely added anything to debate.” What I thought was a one-time election thing is becoming more frequent in the Twitterverse. I need more intelligent conversations instead of anonymous462 yelling in caps lock with no substance and no contribution.
I was able to sit down with bloggers back in 2010 from all political stripes and we had lots of fun and respect doing what we felt passionate about. We need the bloggers back with their insightful dialogue, their witty comments, and their lower-case conversations.
There was something about the old gang and the way they write that makes you want to read their blogs. Without a blogger’s perspective, the same two newspapers and council talking points gets a little dull. Like I had mentioned before, when both sides respect each other and take the time and effort to explain their sides, it makes the conversation a lot easier to listen to. When you also take the time to listen, it also gives a person a whole range of ideas and issues that they haven’t thought of before. It’s easy to talk, but it’s so difficult to listen.
End of free content
The Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun have continued reporting where citizen journalism has fallen short. However, the harsh realities of today’s professional journalism are going to impact civic discussion. The Sun and the Herald’s move to an online paid service and the Herald’s print circulation being reduced to 6 days a week are signs of professional journalism struggling in today’s media. Tweets and Facebook likes aren’t going to be made for a paid-only article, and the world doesn’t operate just 6 days a week. We still have free sources like the Metro or Fast Foward Weekly, but they don’t produce enough content, or the content is condensed.
With OpenFile shut down, an exhausted local blog community, and mainstream media moving to online pay models, is the city conversation going silent?
So here’s my call for my blogger friends to start writing again. I was very fortunate to be a part of the success the blogging community shared in 2010, but I don’t want to see that success lose momentum. I am not willing to take my democracy for granted, so I’m going to start the conversation once again. Here’s to many more hours sitting in front of a computer screen.