Five years of blogging
In February of 2014 I decided that I needed to do something beyond complaining to my wife and friends about the state of journalism in the Wheeling area. I decided to create a blog; the Wheeling Alternative was the result. I published my first blog post on March 2, 2014 about a biased headline that ran in the Wheeling Intelligencer. (See below.) A year later, the blog's title became The Wheeling Alternative as I moved the blog to Silvrback to make it easier for me to write and for the reader to read. Combining both sites, I’ve published over 1,000 posts and Google Analytics tells me that I’ve had over 20,000 distinct visitors.
Some things I’ve learned in five years
About local news sources:
Our local Ogden newspapers have not improved. Last year, the locals redefined themselves as “community newspapers.” Maybe that’s their excuse for the terrible job they do covering important national stories (especially as it applies to Trump), but it doesn’t explain why it takes days to report on local events. The worst day of the week is clearly Sunday when the reader gets days-old local stories and minimal national news. Additionally, the papers continue to display their right-wing, Republican bias.
Local TV news has continued to decline as Sinclair Broadcasting has forced more rightwing propaganda on local WTOV and WTRF local news coverage is still bare-boned at best (especially on weekends).
Organizing and writing a complicated post, as well as finding good evidence, continues to take up more time than I think it should. I’ve also found that there is little correlation between the amount of time putting together a post and the number of readers attracted to it. I’ve learned to live with it, but it does get frustrating at times.
Local and statewide blogging
State and regional blogs are apparently in a state of decline. Since 2013, Meteor Blades at the Daily Kos has written a Saturday column that features posts from various state progressive blogs from across the country. (A couple of my posts on state issues did make his weekly collection.) Two weeks ago, Blades ran his last column featuring state blogs explaining that the times had changed:
By the peak in 2013, there were 146 that I was perusing each week. The roster included at least one such blog in every state, and several in some states. A ton of choices for good material, so much that I felt bad some weeks that I had chosen from the outset to keep the list to just a dozen selections a week.
But the changing digital dynamic, with writers moving their efforts over to Facebook and Twitter, or simply getting exhausted after years of blogging, has steadily chipped away at those venues, leaving behind ghosts where the last post is months or years old, or simply disappearing altogether. Interestingly, a few of the survivors are some of the oldest in existence, still plugging away. But as of last week, there were just 38 progressive state blogs remaining on my list, and a dozen or so that have hung on are clearly moribund.
I find that very disconcerting.
My first post in 2014
The post was about a biased Wheeling Intelligencer headline attached to a story about the U.S. Supreme Court reviewing an EPA case. (No link -- internet updates to coding have rendered the original Wheeling Alternative unreadable.) I quoted first from the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Jounalists:
Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
Most of the newspapers that ran the story had a headline similar to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
High court climate case examines EPA's power
Here was the Intelligencer's headline:
EPA Hot Air Going to Supreme Court
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's headline is especially interesting given that they are a very conservative newspaper. The Tribune-Review, however, explains that they present objective news throughout the paper and reserve their opinions for their editorial pages. The Intelligencer, it would appear, makes no such distinction.
Some things have not changed. Here is the headline from this morning’s Intelligencer coverage of yesterday’s anti-Muslim poster at "Republicans Take the Rotunda" day at the capitol:
Anti-Muslim Display At State Capitol Upsets Lawmakers
No one else but lawmakers found it offensive? Yeah, some of those Democratic delegates are way too sensitive to racism and nativism.