Sifry’s Take

Micah Sifry, a student of online politics who edits the Personal Democracy Forum, emailed over this response to the Newsday op-ed, which I thought was worth posting in full.

(Sifry’s also a former Rasiej aide, who said he’ll be posting a post-mortem of that campaign on his site soon. In case you just can’t get enough.)

I liked your oped in Newsday today. I agree the city’s political blog scene is pretty anemic and surprisingly so. But in addition to the reasons you give for its weakness, I wonder if there aren’t some additional forces at work.

One is how much NYC’s political culture today seems oriented around careerism and its corollary, insider plays. The Politicker, for example, is a great site, but most of the people who are drawn to it are interested in playing a very snide backbiting kind of game with each other. It’s entertaining, but really only to a rarified group.

And this mirrors the larger weakness of NYC’s Democratic/liberal culture–the political actors are either careerist/ambitious pols or operators seeking a bigger slice of the pie for their tribe/interest-group. That fact that Slantpoint has a vibrant, if small, community of Republicans is not a contradiction with this, actually.

The second, related, reason is we should remember how over-mediated NYC already is, and how it is the home base for Old Media. It’s harder for anything to stand out here, compared to a one-newspaper town like, say, Portland Oregon which has a very vibrant political blog scene. That said, I suspect NYC is ripe for a muckraking political blog (Not that I’m about to start one).

The alternative press here hasn’t drawn blood in a while, and it’s amazing how much sway a few very unaccountable institutions (like the NYTimes editorial board or the producers of NY1) have over political developments here.

Micah suggested The Politicker more regularly do a round-up of local blogs. The ones that spring to mind are Daily Gotham, Slantpoint, Alarming News, that new DMI blog, Gotham Gazette’s Wonkster and the Voice’s Power Plays. Other suggestions?

Sifry’s Take