Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bloggers in Bemidji/Blogging in the Northwoods

I know that most political bloggers in Minnesota can find something to disagree with me about in philosophy, politics, etc. but think that all bloggers in Minnesota politics believe in the technology, believe in the kind of discourse that blogs have created about politics nationally and especially on the East Coast. The problem for most of us, but especially those of us blogging from outstate, is that we have had trouble creating popular readership that is local and informed. Part of that is that there is a larger digital divide and less independent media reinforcing the different points of view that can be found online, so bloggers usually sound like they are coming from a different planet. A bigger piece of the reason why there is less interest and traction in a Minnesota blogosphere for poltics is that most Minnesotans would not have any clue that any of this debate is going on. One way to start changing this is for bloggers to advertise outstate, ideally in small independent weeklies, on one off billboard on the highways, (vs. buying ads through clear chanel or other big newspaper/radio/billboard conglomerates), but you have to get outstate and poke around for small media that is still authoritative. Blog for Bell has done the best job of tracking down small town newspapers and linking to them that an MN blogger has tried, and that expression of interest is a huge step. The next step is taking to the highways and driving through small towns and fing and subscribing to the little weeklies that don't have a web presence yet. I did a little of that in Northwest Minnesota dring caucus season when I created a little job for myself as an independent contractor with the Bell campaign, when I was dropping lit and buying little ads to remind people to caucus, to look up Ford Bell on the internet. That was before I started blogging here about politics, before I got angry enough to consider running against Skoe. I am sure that my blog now makes me unemployable with any campaign, but if Rod Grams, e.g. wants to pay me $100,000 a month to keep writing angry diatribes about the Beltrami Co. DFL I would have to consider it. Since I no longer have a real candidate in the race, I have been promoting ths blog almost as if it were a candidate, and it is working. I have a pretty good mix of readers from Minnesota, especially outstate, and people elsewhere (NY, CT, DC, California, Hawaii, etc.) who find this blog by searching for logical keywords and content.

Anyway, I have been kicking around the idea of hosting a retreat for bloggers from the metro or even out-of-state, to come up here and take the pulse of the communities I blog about (an opportunity for Matt at MN Publius to find out if I am as unconnected and uninvolved as he imagines I might be). E-mail me if you want to take a more active role in making this hapen, if you want to come up and fish and carouse in the local bars for a weekend and help lay some more of the groundwork and logistics for this community to host a larger contingent of bloggers in a month or so.

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