What is local

At Yearly Kos I kept hearing that local blogging is where it’s at. There were two panels and a caucus on “state-local blogging.” The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “Local blogs are key to future of politics.” People are learning that the smaller the area represented, the more impact each constituent has (as was also pointed out in this article I blogged about last week).

And yet, there was hardly a mention of county or municipal politics at Yearly Kos, other than how to work with local Democratic Parties. I’m certainly not opposed to advocacy targeting state and federal reps – in fact BlueNC.com does a great job of this and more power to them and their brethren across the country – but I think that truly local politics transcends party and hinges much more on individual relationships and reputations in a way that even state house races really don’t.

Accordingly, local blogging also has much to do with the authority and connections of the author. If I had started OrangePolitics under a pseudonym, not many people would have read it and even less would care what I had to say. The elected officials and other people I blog about are often my friends, or at least people I am likely to see at the grocery store. We all have to remember to treat each other as human so we can get along for the next few decades.

Another big difference is in publicity, the ostensible topic of one of the panels I was on at yKos. When we are writing on OrangePolitics, we are writing to the people of Orange County, NC. That is our solitary audience. Almost every method available for blog promotion reaches out to people irrespective of location. I can think of a few exceptions, like Facebook’s regional networks, but for the most part these tools feel sort of irrelevant to me. Links from national sources like LeftyBlogs.com may help with Google Ranking, but how likely are people in my county to go looking to a national source for local information?

I’m really glad to see political bloggers becoming aware of how much power they can have at the state and local level. But I hope folks will try to step away from a lot of what they know about politics and get their hands dirty meeting their neighbors and learning about local issues that aren’t easily painted in black and white.

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