The previous post reminds me: We do our best to keep up with what other blogs write about us, when we are cited, and when we do online, television and radio interviews. (We have a very recent television interview up.) It's near impossible to get all of it, but we catch much of it. What we do find we archive on this site. So, be sure to go to the Online Newsroom on occasion to see what's new out there — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Hopefully, you've perused the March 3 News Stand. In it, I bring to readers' attention an article by The Washington Post's Marc Fisher who laments that economic downsizing has led to a reduction in media coverage of state government in Richmond and Annapolis. Among the Mainstream Media, he notes, several newspapers have reduced the number of reporters at the capitols, about half as many in Virginia as there used to be, and that only one Virginia television station still maintains a bureau in capitol square. Alas, he maintains, despite the explosion of new media —blogs in particular — it isn't enough to fill the gaps left by the reduction of full-time journalists. Says who? While we won't be pretentious enough to claim bloggers fill the exact same role as political beat journalists, especially the old-fashioned five W's objective reporters — those days disappeared along with the buggy whip manufacturers anyway — we can say, speaking for ourselves, that bloggers have more than replaced what passed for electronic media coverage of the legislature. Never more than sound byte "journalism," exactly how much depth do viewers get from one- and two-minute television reports, or 30-second updates on radio?
Perhaps Mr. Fisher should have looked at our blog during session (see Capitol Square Diary) and our YouTube page. Everyone should. At last count we had 23 videos posted there, almost all concerning the General Assembly, and many of them from committee hearings. Not five- or 10-second sound bytes, but full testimonies and questions and answers between committee members and witnesses, not to mention the committee votes. Ahh, the votes.
Often what passes for news coverage of devious parliamentary gimmicks that kill bills without the legislators going on record is the media's complyingly innocuous, "the bill died in committee." But how? We show you! Which is something, that no matter how many television or radio station bureaus there are, never seems to be told. We don't let the politicians escape, unlike the Mainstream Media. I'm not sure why Mr. Fisher doesn't think that's laudable.
The fact is, the new media is here and will continue to grow in outlets as well as users, evolve in its delivery mechanisms (we were just getting used to blogs, then Facebook, when Twitter came around), and increase in importance. If that's to the Mainstream Media's demise, so be it. But if the MSM is at least partly responsible for its own demise for its complacency in seeing the future, it surely is fully responsible for its diminishing presence by its lack of depth of coverage and its flat-out distortations of its coverage of politics and policy.
Apparently, what matters most to MSM apologists is numbers — after all, what can legitimize the biased MSM other than to say tens of thousands read their publications or watch their broadcasts? It certainly isn't in the quality or depth of coverage. But the velocity of change in information consumption is happening faster than a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. So new media audience numbers will grow in time. Of course, expecting the MSM to acknowledge that is like expecting them to cover a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. It rarely, if ever, happens.
We are pleased to bring to you a new feature: The Virginia News Stand. Everyday our crack communications staff puts together the best and most significant political news articles and commentary from newspapers across Virginia for our staff and board members, including The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times, Washington Times, Washington Post, The Daily Press and many more. It's a great way to brief yourself on all matters Virginia — political and policy. In order to continue to our efforts to become the best blog and one-stop center for policy and political discussion and activism, we decided not to limit the party. We want to include as many information resources here as possible to give you every tool to better inform yourselves and your family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors and members of your church on the important issues of the day. Here's how it works: Everyday that our crack communications staff is in the office, we will create a post of links to the same articles, columns and editorials on Virginia policy and politics we are reading internally. (If a particular article deserves to be singled out for some reason, post your comments on that day's thread.) These daily news clips will be archived in a new category called The Virginia News Stand, which will archive only these posts. That way, if you want to research a certain day's articles from a few days or few weeks before, you can click on the category and search out what you need rather simply, without any cross-referenced commentary posts to sort through. You can use our very accurate search engine as well. The headlines will be uniform for research simplicity. For example, Virginia News Stand: November 13, 2008.
Your friendly admin will even include an occasional editorial cartoon which the communications staff doesn't do. We hope you like this convenience and depth of information every bit as much as we will enjoy bringing it to you. In the meantime, if you have suggestions, about this new feature, or anything else about the blog, please let us know.
If you've glanced at our extensive blogroll since yesterday you will have noticed some funky symbols for the sites listed at the top. There's a reason for this. For some reason our WordPress program won't let us breakup the many linked blogs into categories. Ideally, we'd have categories for state political blogs, blogs by media outlets, etc. Since we wanted to add some new blogs and Web sites from affiliated organizations, we had to figure a way to group them together and highlight them. WordPress only lets us list by alphabetical order, so designating them with symbols was the only method to keep them grouped together; the symbols also supercede the alphabet, so that also highlights them. Until we figure out how to work around the category limitation, this will have to suffice. Here's how to decipher the secret code: We have our own Internet presence with The Family Foundation of Virginia and Family Foundation Action Web sites. They are at the top of the blogroll with an asterisk.
Those with a + is a Family Foundation of Virginia state affiliate or chapter; following them with an @ is a national organization with which we have an affiliation of some type. The former are The Fairfax Family Forum and The Valley Family Forum. The latter consist of: Alliance Defense Fund, American Family Association, Citizen Magazine, Citizen Link, Citizen Link Take Action, Focus On The Family, Focus Action, Family Research Council, FRC Action and FRC Blog. All of these are excellent resources for news, issues education, research and citizen action. We hope you visit all of them often.
About those initials — ODBA: We are very pleased to announce that we now are included in the Old Dominion Blog Alliance — or at least its site. The ODBA is the outstanding confederation of conservative Virginia bloggers. We haven't heard anything official but noticed our posts popping up on its site, which is an aggregator, and our link is on its blogroll. We're very proud and honored to be included with some of the best minds and commentators in Virginia's highly respected blogosphere. We added the ODBA site to our blogroll and have had almost all of its members on our blogroll since we created it.
Membership in the ODBA means (we think) the inclusion on all its many members' blogrolls in addition to the ODBA site. So we look forward to the expanded Internet presence such inclusion entails, which will result in yet more visitors to our already highly trafficked blog. If you've found us through the ODBA, welcome, and we hope you come back often.
Previously, we were included on Righty Blogs Virginia, also an aggregator. Aggregators post a member blog's most recent posts on its site practically in real time. They're a kind of central meeting point for readers and clearing house of current opinion and comment. We hope you visit both ODBA and RBV often to get the latest from the cream of Virginia's blogosphere.
We continue to add links of all sorts to make this site the best possible resource for pro-family, pro-traditional values and constitutional government comment, information and citizen action. We offer our warmest thanks for your continued readership and support.
Mr. Galen, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview at familyfoundation.org. It is quite a privilege to have such a noteworthy figure in the national conservative movement join us, especially with what must be a busy transition time in your life. You are the first national figure to do an interview with us. Congratulations! Although I suspect that accomplishment won't exactly move to the top of your curriculum vitae. ; - ) familyfoundation.org: You have been in the news lately. You have accepted a new job with U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). What will you do in your capacity as her senior counselor?
Rich Galen: My portfolio includes oversight of the communications and speech-writing functions; but I also have license to look at other areas of the Senator's office operations.
familyfoundation.org: Can you describe what it is like to work for such high-profile leaders as former Vice President Dan Quayle and former Speaker Newt Gingrich and the opportunities it affords to positively affect policy?
Rich Galen: You must always remember it is the Vice President or the Speaker or the Senator who is the elected individual, not the advisor or the press secretary. Too often in Washington staff begins to believe it is the surrogate for, not the supporter of, the principal.
With that in mind, however, if you can establish a level of mutual trust, then in the confines of the office you may have the opportunity to shape policy. However, again, it is the principal's policy which comes out the door; not the staff's.
familyfoundation.org: How did you get recruited to speak at the Republican Party of Virginia Convention last week? Would you mind giving a synopsis of your keynote address and why you chose your theme?
Rich Galen: You'd have to ask Charlie Judd why he picked me, but I was honored that he did. My remarks were specifically aimed at reminding the delegates that even in a year when U.S. Senate and the President will be on the ballot, it all starts at the precinct.
I asked the delegates to keep in mind that a state-wide election is not won from Richmond, it is won by building a good precinct organization and then expanding that into a good neighborhood organization to good county organization.
If the GOP does that better than the Democrats, we will win in November.
familyfoundation.org: We are a conservative Christian grassroots public policy organization concerned about the direction of Virginia and the entire country on numerous issues. However, the pro-life, pro-family, traditional marriage and traditional family values issues are of particular concern. What advice can you give organizations like ours, our grassroots chapters and individuals to take up the challenges of affecting public policy, especially during times when the political winds seem to be coming from the other direction? Why is it important to stay engaged and how can single individuals or small groups get involved and make a difference?
Rich Galen: You must never lose sight of the effect letters-to-the editor, op-ed pieces, letters to the offices of elected officials, and appearing at public meetings — from school board to city council to county commission meetings — and make your voices heard.
Elected officials WANT to hear from you because they want to be certain they are keeping on top of the pulse of the community. Not every community has the same pulse, so don't take it for granted that a group with similar principles will be speaking for you.
familyfoundation.org: With its recent past election results, pundits now are calling Virginia a battleground state. Is Virginia helplessly moving left because of demographic change or does the conservative message resonate less with people looking for solutions to everyday problems, such as transportation, education and rising prices for food and gas?
Rich Galen: They are not mutually exclusive. Conservative principles, applied properly, will yield solutions to transportation, education, gas and food.
familyfoundation.org: We hear and read so much about change, yet that is vague. What is your sense of the electorate right now and how does that affect conservative candidates and what they stand for?
Rich Galen: "Change" as defined by the Left is not a new way forward, it is an about face to the policies which obtained for a half century until Ronald Reagan led America out of its Depression-era thinking and into a new era of less government, and greater personal opportunities.
familyfoundation.org: You started a very popular blog, mullings.com. What did you see at the time that made you think that blogs were going to be an important aspect of political communications?
Rich Galen: No. Had I known how important what has become known as the blogosphere was going to become, I would have been much more serious about it. As it is, Mullings recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and has been a joy to write through all years.
familyfoundation.org: What advice do you have for bloggers?
Rich Galen: First you have to have something to say. Second you have to write it in a voice which people want to read. Third — and perhaps most important — you have to write with a regularity and a frequency so that people who want to read what you have written don't drift away because there is no new material when they go looking at your blog.
Hidden deep in today's Washington Post article about John Edward's much coveted endorsement of Barak Obama is a paragraph that shows yet another division in the Democrat party. This time over which presidential candidate has the best pro-abortion credentials. Apparently, NARAL Pro-Choice and Emily's List, the two competitors over pro-choice dollars, are at odds over Obama and Hillary. NARAL choosing Barak with Emily's List choosing Hillary. The division broke down into media and blog-battles yesterday and today.
Hard to pick which of these candidates is most pro-choice, since they both support abortion on demand through birth, regardless of reason. If Hillary isn't pro-choice enough for some in the Democrat party, it really makes you wonder what she would have to do to earn their support? And if Barak is even more pro-choice than Hillary . . . ?