Local Sunlight

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Every week I climb into the depths of the local political blogosphere to find the Sunlight. I use this series to highlight local blogs that do a great work by covering local, state, and congressional political news. This week I have highlights from New Mexico, Georgia and Illinois.

New Mexico FBIHOP has been live blogging the New Mexican legislative session.  This year is a short 30 day session covering mostly budgetary issues.  Matt is doing a great job keeping on top of what is going on, along with the live streaming action on New Mexico Independent this legislative session will be well accounted for.  In the coming weeks we will be keeping track of the up and coming transparency initiatives in the state, so stay tuned.

Peach Pundit has a post about a former candidate for Governor’s PAC, which hasn’t filed a campaign report in a while, but had a great deal of money left over.   The blogger wondered if they had to continue to file if they had any left over funds. Apparently they do not have to disclosure left over funds and can do whatever they wants with it.

Illinois’ The Quincy Pundit has a post about strange practices in the Quincy City Hall.  The City Attorney sent out a letter to people in the community, on official letterhead, basically asking them to not vote for a particular candidate for Mayor because that candidate would fire him.  Well, isn’t that special.

I also wanted to point out this awesome article by MediaShift highlighting great work by 3 local bloggers from around the country.  I think this quote by blogger Chuck Welch sums up the local political bloggersphere perfectly.

“I think there are cases now where city council or city staff might be more cognizant that just because the newspaper reporter is not in the room it doesn’t mean the community is not going to learn about whatever it is they are doing.”

It is widely accepted that citizen journalists doesn’t replace investigative journalists, however, that doesn’t discount how important they are to keep track of local government.  With the recent court decision transparency is more important than ever we need people willing to dig through disclosure data and an active political blogosphere is where we look to find them.

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  • As I often quote, “All news is local.”

    Yes, the lines between local, state, and federal politics are easily marked. However, reporters should always write to their community — whether it is geographically local, state, or national.

    At Lakeland Local, we made a conscious decision to cover all political and business decisions that impact our community. One reporter is tasked with the City Commission, while another deals only with state decisions. In each case, they’re expected to explain how the decisions will affect our community of almost 100,000.

    Given that “all news is local” I’d add that “all politics is ultimately local.”

    Nisha, I agree that citizen journalists don’t usually replace investigative journalists. However, in communities without a vibrant newspaper, they’re doing a good job with almost no resources save time and passion.

    I’m interested in your definitions of “blogger” and “citizen journalist.” Are the growing number journalists who start news sites “bloggers,” “citizen journalists,” or are they still simply “journalists?”

    Thanks for the kind words, by the way.

  • Ari,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I have been struggling for a way to make a better distinction. You are correct local and state issues are different. There is no doubt about that.

    However, this column is specifically about local bloggers who write about their local, state, and sometime federal accountability problems. “Local” is pointing to the bloggers and not really to the actual issues. Since bloggers rarely make the distinction that they are local, state, and federal(they tend to talk about everything), I put them under Local.

    You are correct that the problems between federal, state, and local transparency issues definitely need the distinction. As we move into covering more state and local issues we need to keep that in mind.

    If you have any suggestions on how I can better clarify please let me know.

  • Can I request that when you write about “local” politics, that be specific to local and not state (or by extension, congressional)? There is a reason there is a line of demarcation between local government and state government, and when you intermingle the two under the guise of local, that is, well, a guise. Thanks.