Hooray for Twitter! But Let’s Not Forget the Impact of a Well-Read Blog

KUOW’s Austin Jenkins has a good piece on the role of social media in amplifying the controversy over NRA lobbyist Brian Judy’s offensively Godwinian comments:

Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University, said he technology as the key driver here — from the recording device planted in the audience to Twitter as a means of quickly disseminating the audio and transcript.

“Think even just 10 years ago,” Donovan said. “You couldn’t probably do this much in a one or two day news cycle, right?”

Yeah, well, true, no doubt. But don’t forget the role of an independent media—like Horsesass.org—in putting legs underneath a story like this, a role I’ve been filling in one capacity or another since 2004.

When the rest of our local media decided to sit on a sexual harassment scandal involving Washington’s longtime Lands Commissioner, I’m the one who broke the story and quickly forced it to the front page. When in the midst of a close race for King County Executive, media insiders laughed about how his own mother wouldn’t vote for Republican David Irons Jr., but refused to explain to voters the reasons why, I’m the one who forced the issue onto the airwaves, changing the complexion of the final three weeks of the election. And even as President George W. Bush was thanking FEMA director Mike Brown for doing “a heckuva job” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I was exposing the cronyism that had led to his disastrously unqualified appointment—an exposé that Brown himself blamed for his demise:

When I was forced off the pages of The Stranger in the heat of the minimum wage debate, there were business owners who cheered at the thought that they had finally shut me up. But I wasn’t about to give them that satisfaction. And so I returned to HA, if only part-time, gradually rebuilding its audience and influence so that I could use my shitty little foul-mouthed blog to once again make a difference the next time an opportunity to make a difference came my way.

This was one of those opportunities. And it felt damn good to play my role.

Maybe a traditional news outlet might have done as well had the audio come their way, or maybe they would have soft-balled it or failed to see its significance altogether. For as I have repeatedly preached to my friends in the broader progressive community, you just can’t rely on the Blethen-controled “objective” gatekeepers at the Seattle Times, or the sound-bite-constrained reporters of broadcast news, or the access-obsessed insiders at PubliCola, or even my well-meaning but distracted and overworked (and occasionally fired) ex-colleagues at The Stranger to get your message out, and get it out right. You need bloggers like me working at truly independent but fiercely progressive media outlets like HA.

And we need you to help us earn a living wage.

Twitter and Facebook are great tools for amplifying your message—hell, that’s how I draw most of my eyeballs these days, now that I’m no longer sucking at Dan Savage’s swollen Internet traffic teat. But social media is nothing without the content to drive it. And so rather than continuing to spend the bulk of your communications budgets on media outreach—whatever the technology—I remain convinced that local progressive organizations would realize much more bang for their messaging buck by coming together and funding an independent local progressive media outlet of their own.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Should I send you one of these? Everyone should own one. You never know when you might need it.


    Unfortunately, that’s the state of our media these days, which is too bad, because the need for good journalism hasn’t gone away, only the paychecks (which were never generous to begin with) have gone away. Think of all the good blogs Frank Blethen could have funded with the $150 million he squandered on his dinosaur of a printing plant.

  2. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Ellen Craswell is no longer among the … (what’s the scientific term I’m looking for here?) … viable.

    @5 But all politics is not equal. Goldy is waging the good fight.

  3. 7

    Worf spews:

    @6- I didn’t know the old bat was dead. She’s a republican, though. You can bet she’s still voting.

  4. 8

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    And I’ll pony up an ST annual subscription size donation in August.
    Thanks for your work and effort Goldy.

  5. 9

    Jimmy spews:

    And you are correct. It’s not just a progressive cause. It is a cause at getting to the actual facts. Facts that are ignored by the sound byte and sensationalist obsessed outlets. There is so much trolling for reaction that you can barely get to the bottom of anything.

    I’ve pretty much given up on The Stranger since you left. The actual reporting on things seems to have diminished and I’m left a little perplexed. I follow a bit of Dom’s stuff but the rest, including Dan seem to have gotten sucked into a vacuum of sorts. Maybe The Stranger sees its viability in focusing on younger readers who are interested in simplistic social issues and not the wonky content we “older” folks attend. If that is the case, they aren’t doing anyone a service but surviving to cover the latest crappy band or rapper malfeasance. I don’t really know what the answer is there other than just what you suggest. I thought Publicola would fill that void but it didn’t. I thought The Stranger would carry the fight, but it isn’t. Even when I think you are wrong, Goldy, I usually think you are on to something that broadens the discussion much more than the long winded bumper sticker of an editorial page the Seattle Times publishes.

    Thanks my friend.

  6. 11

    PistolAnnie spews:

    I certainly read the stranger less and this blog more now (anna is good at the stranger, otherwise I’d probably completely stop)
    What’s going on at the stranger?? I used to read it religiously and it has lost it’s zest. Seriously, what’s going on at the stranger?

  7. 12


    @10 No, Cienna left on her own two feet. I’m mostly referring to the fact that they clearly can be fired. Which limits one’s independence.

    @11 Clearly, Cienna was the thread that tied The Stranger together. Once she left, everything unraveled.

  8. 13


    @8 Thanks. But to be clear, while I gladly accept and appreciate donations, this isn’t intended as a fundraising post. I haven’t done a funder since returning to HA because I haven’t been able to make a commitment to blog full time, and so I wouldn’t want people to give me money with the expectation of future services rendered.

  9. 14

    seatackled spews:


    You know her much better than I do, but I think she would object to your characterization that she left on her two feet. Where she comes from, they are called cloven hooves.

  10. 16

    don spews:


    The Times doesn’t need to underwrite any blogs. The Times calls them “partners”, meaning they give these blogs a free link on the Times’ web page.


    “By partnering with these quality local sites, the Times can provide its readers with more links to important coverage about both neighborhoods and general interest topics. In return, the partners receive increased traffic and exposure.”

    Sounds like a 13 year old’s excuse: “I’m helping the artist by ripping off his music”.

  11. 17

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that scandals happen on both sides of the political spectrum, not just on the right.

    When many in the national media collectively sat on the John Edwards scandal, it was the National Enquirer who broke the story. LA Times, in particular, rather infamously told its people to stand down. LA Times went bankrupt.

    When Newsweek sat on the Lewinsky scandal, it was Drudge who broke the story. Newsweek is virtually nonexistent.

    How many scandals on the left have you exposed? You’re clearly plugged in enough to know about some of them, and quite possibly more than a few.

    You seem to want to be a compensated independent entity. I would suggest that if you’re exposing secrets of one side and keeping secrets of the other side, that’s not independence. If you’re paid by one side for doing it, you’re a partisan mouthpiece for that side, even if you choose to describe it as fierce progressivism, and unbridled profanity doesn’t do much to disguise it.

    Tough spot to be in. It’s especially difficult if you’re making a plea for financial support to a group of people who are used to expecting others to pay for stuff they want, I would imagine.

  12. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    So here we have Doctor Bob trying to play the false-equivalency game again.

    When Republicans controlled Congress, they systematically swept Republican scandals under the rug.

    When William Jefferson, a Democrat, was caught stashing corrupt cash in a refrigerator, House Democrats stripped him of his committee assignments — the severest sanction they could impose. (They didn’t have a House majority, so they couldn’t expel him.)

    Democrats and Republicans ARE different in how they deal with scandals. First, Republican scandals seem to be much more numerous than Democratic scandals. Second, Democrats hold misbehaving Democrats accountable; Republicans lie, deny, and protect their own.

    Nice try, Bob. You’re full of shit, as always.

  13. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Oh, and by the way, Bob, if you’ve got some dirt on a liberal — feel free to post it on HA. You won’t be censored. I can’t say the same for the rightwing sites you cited. We get locked out of those sites merely for expressing minor philosophical disagreements.

  14. 21

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 19

    When William Jefferson, a Democrat, was caught stashing corrupt cash in a refrigerator, House Democrats stripped him of his committee assignments — the severest sanction they could impose. (They didn’t have a House majority, so they couldn’t expel him.)

    Um, Democrats took over the House after the 2006 elections. Jefferson was indicted in January, 2007. He served virtually his entire term as an indicted individual under a House run by Democrats. One of his aides had pleaded guilty, about two years previously, to bribing Jefferson.

    He wasn’t expelled because that’s not what Pelosi wanted, RR. Do not suggest that the GOP members of the House would not have permitted if if that is what she wanted.

    You are incorrect to suggest otherwise.

  15. 22

    Ekim spews:

    Dr Bob @15 spews:
    I read just yesterday that there might be good money in trolling.

    If you are better at trolling than you are at doctoring I suggest you change professions. Both professions would benefit, I’m sure.

  16. 23

    Better spews:

    Hey Cheap Shot,

    Suspecting Jefferson of bribery, the FBI raided his Congressional offices in May 2006, but he was re-elected later that year. On June 4, 2007, a federal grand jury indicted Jefferson on sixteen felony charges related to corruption.[22] Jefferson was defeated by Republican Joseph Cao on December 6, 2008,[20]

    On May 24, 2006, after months of refusing to deal with the Jefferson scandal amid rising public outrage, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi publicly requested Jefferson’s immediate resignation from the House Ways and Means Committee, but he declined to step down.[27]

    On June 15, 2006, House Democrats voted to strip Jefferson of his committee assignment while the federal bribery investigation continued. The intra-party vote passed 99 to 58. The full House, the only group with the power actually to remove Jefferson, then stripped him of his seat on the committee on June 16.


    He was re elected even through he was under investigation.
    He was not expelled, maybe because he had not been found guilty yet. Cheap shot bob is always saying “wait, and don’t rush to judgment” when it’s a republican or zimmerman, but he doesn’t follow his standard when it comes to democrats. *cough David Vitter cough*