The Washington Post today ran a story on political blogging in Virginia subtitled "Va. Candidates Find Help, Lies on Web" on the front page of the Metro section.
Unfortunately, the story focuses mainly on the example of Not Larry Sabato's blog running a rumor that Shayna Englin was planning to run for Congress. Of course, this example highlights the more negative aspects of some types of political blogging -- unconfirmed rumors, anonymous sources, anonymous bloggers, anonymous commenters, innocent subjects. I consider it a major low point for NLS's blog, which otherwise provided very interesting coverage of House races and has succeeded in attracting and maintaining a bipartisan audience - something that I don't think is true for any other Virginia political blog.
By focusing on the worst post of this one blog, the WaPo article misses the bigger story on Virginia political blogging. The opening paragraph mentions it:
David and Shayna Englin are all too familiar with the power of bloggers. Courting these off-the-cuff Internet columnists helped David Englin, a relative unknown, win a Democratic primary for a Northern Virginia House seat last month.
But then the rest of the story ignores this positive aspect of blogging and focuses on ethical concerns about the anonymous NLS blog, which is an outlier in the Virginia political blogosphere in that it is completely anonymous and runs anonymous rumors without confirmation. (Not to bash NLS's blog - it still has more coverage of Virginia House races than any other source, blog or otherwise.)
What would have been far more instructive and unique would have been to ask the Englins how blogging - their own, and that of prominent political bloggers they befriended - impacted their race.
Was it through giving them buzz they wouldn't otherwise have had? Did bloggers help attract volunteers to the race? Did blogging help to feed stories to the mainstream media about their campaign? Did blog-based coverage of their race inspire donors and supporters? What are the constructive and useful aspects of blogging?
DFV was mentioned in the "Blog Spots" list which accompanied the article, along with two of my favorite Virginia political blogs, Commonwealth Commonsense and 750 Volts. Two right-wing blogs, Bacon's Rebellion and Sic Semper Tyrannis were also mentioned. Welcome to Washington Post readers who've found us today!