What makes a political blog successful?

The Daily Pilot newspaper, which serves Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, went through three rounds of layoffs last year – they even laid off 20 year veteran Tony Dodero, who was their Director of “News and Online.”  Now their City Desk Editor, Paul Anderson, thinks he can tell us what makes for a good blogger, in a post in his own blog.

Anderson wrote today about Orange County’s new liberal blog, Orange County Progressive.  We did too, but check out what Anderson had to say about the other bloggers in the O.C.:

Too many blogs these days just deconstruct some news organization’s content and spew out a bunch of conspiracy theories. Most of the time I think, who cares what you think? And that’s because a lot of the bloggers aren’t very informed. I like the Atlantic bloggers, like Andrew Sullivan, because they’re journalists and they have informed opinions when they comment on someone else’s work. That’s called perspective.

What a pompous ass this guy Anderson is!

The fact is, most political blogs in Orange County deal in OPINION, not necessarily news.  Yes, we often do refer to news items, and add our two bits.  The fact is, if you are going to run a successful blog, you have to keep the material fresh.  And that’s not all.  Here is what it takes to make a political blog a success:

  1. You need to post new material every single day!  So far Orange County Progressive has posted six posts since they started posting regularly on January 27.  In that same time period, the Orange Juice bloggers have posted 16 stories.  This post will make it 17.  Is that too much?  Who knows?  But we just now surpassed our usual 1,000 visits a day.
  2. You need a diverse blog team.  There is nothing wrong with Orange County Progressive’s team of Joe Shaw, Heather Pritchard and Gus Ayer – except that they all likely share the same philosophy and beliefs.  What is interesting about that?  It’s all I can do to keep my blog team from ripping each other apart – but it makes for a compelling mix.  Our bloggers include conservative and liberal Republicans, Libertarians, and moderate and liberal Democrats.  Now that’s diversity!
  3. You don’t need professional writers or journalists – but you do need interesting writers who have something to say.  I often spend hours just editing what my other bloggers put up – adding pictures, cleaning up grammar, and revising headlines.  But they each contribute something – and each has their own expertise and interests.
  4. Reporting news and press releases only is boring.  People read blogs because they want to be entertained as well as informed – and in our case because they want to disagree with us!  Nothing wrong with that.
  5. Angst is good!  You need conflict, otherwise things get stale and boring very quickly.  When things get slow around here I know all I have to do is write a post slamming my counterpart at Red County, Matt/Jubal Cunningham, and you know it will be on, for about thirty comments.  Puerile?  Maybe.  Boring?  Never!
  6. Time is of the essence.  You have to stay on top of things.  Being last doesn’t work in the blogosphere, not when folks are constantly checking the blogs all day long.

And it helps to have bloggers who know about politics.  Anderson was blown away by the fact that the aforementioned Joe Shaw is a public works commissioner, and his fellow blogger Gus Ayer was on the Fountain Valley City Council – plus their other blogger, Heather Pritchard, blogs for the Daily Kos.  Fair enough.  But our team here at the Orange Juice isn’t half bad either!  To wit:

  • Larry Gilbert knows more about what is going on in Mission Viejo than all the local news reporters in that area.  He broke the story about the City of Mission Viejo wasting $300,000 on a Rose Bowl Float this year – and that was mentioned in newspapers and in an O.C. Register editorial.  Gilbert has had a direct hand in the election of many local elected officials in his area – and he has himself run for office before.  Gilbert is also known across the nation for his work as an opponent to eminent domain abuse.
  • John Seiler worked as a nationally renowned editorial writer at the O.C. Register for 19 years – he has his own blog and now he is cross-posting  for us.  We are darn pleased to have him on board!  And, like myself, he recently quit the GOP and became a registered Libertarian.
  • Sean Mill is on the Santa Ana Planning Commission – and he has been involved in politics for over 20 years.  He knows where all the skeletons are buried, in Santa Ana, and he adds a Democratic perspective to our mix.
  • Tony Bushala is the number one political activist in Fullerton – and everyone knows him.  When I went to his recent 50th birthday party it was a who’s who of elected officials.  Not many can draw a crowd that includes State Senator Lou Correa and Supervisor Chris Norby!  And Bushala, like Seiler, has his own blog too.  He brings a north county viewpoint that we truly appreciate here at the Orange Juice.
  • Ron Winship is a nationally recognized talk show producer who has his own show, The Cutting Edge.  He too has run for office in years past.  Together with his wife Ann, he brings a Newport Beach/Costa Mesa flavor to our team – and he is a Republican who backed Barack Obama for President.  He also writes for another local blog that covers Newport Beach politics.
  • Ron St. John is a successful attorney, and he has run for Congress, as a Republican.  He lives in Huntington Beach and is known for writing very thoughtful, well-researched posts.
  • Vern Nelson, who is on a personal hiatus, was recognized last year as the “Democratic Volunteer of the Year” for our region, by the Democratic Party of California.  Nelson is a class act – he is a musician and a fantastic writer, for us and for a local independent newspaper.
  • Roy Reynolds is a conservative Republican and an expert in transportation.  He lives in Fountain Valley and he just recently came on board.  We are lucky to have him on our team!
  • Our webmaster, Terry Crowley, has a Master’s Degree in political science.  He does web work for Chevron and he is the former webmaster for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.  Crowley is a very conservative Republican, and we used to cause all sorts of trouble together in the OC GOP.  Now I just drive him nuts all day long!
  • Red Vixen is one of several anon bloggers on our team.  She has been a HUGE asset and resource in helping me with our SAUSD coverage.  She is also a moderate Republican and an expert in real estate.
  • And lastly, I have been on two City Commissions and I was the inaugural Hispanic Outreach Director for the OC GOP.  I have served on both the California and Orange County GOP Central Committees, and I have also run for my local school board and city council.  And I was the first one to start a political blog here in Orange County, back in 2003.  I am also an editor for over a dozen Topix.com city news pages.  I have an MBA, and I work as a safety consultant.  I have worked in industry for over ten years, but I also spent about ten years in marketing and advertising, including several stints at the O.C. Register, in graphic design, advertising and production.  That was a LONG time ago…

I would put my blog team up against any other team here in Orange County.  Are any of us professional journalists?  Well, Seiler sure was, as a longtime editorial writer for the O.C. Register.  The rest of us get by with our own unique experience and passion for politics.  Anderson may not appreciate what we do, but about 1,000 readers a day do, and that is what matters to us.  Besides, he might be looking for work himself before too long…

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.