If you’re not blogging, Twittering, podcasting, videocasting, columnizing, editorializing or reporting on the 87th General Assembly, you might be in the minority.
A quick glance around the Interwebs reveals several sites claiming to keep an eye on the Capitol, and many of them publish continually as news happens.
- My day job, ArkansasBusiness.com: In addition to posting Associated Press reports as they pop, we’re working with new legislative bill tracking service Capsearch.com to get the latest word out of committee meetings and other happenings at the Capitol. We Twitter updates as necessary here, publish a “Capitol round-up” in our Daily Report e-newsletter at noon and have taken the weekly Government & Politics e-newsletter daily during the session, publishing Capitol news updates in the afternoon. Oh, and Capsearch.com’s Insiders’ Blog offers commentary.
- ArkansasNews.com: A brand-spanking new site for the Stephens News Bureau updates with news reports from Capitol throughout the day. Its blogs, meanwhile, offer comment and analysis on the fly. John Brummett is posting regularly on legislative matters. James Jefferson curates the new Politics in Arkansas blog. Doug Thompson has his own blog and Twitter account.
- The Arkansas Times: Editor Max Brantley keeps the conversation going on his Arkansas Blog, but even more daily legislature coverage is coming from John Williams via his newly established Legislative Beat blog.
- Others bloggers, like Jason Tolbert, take a break from their day jobs to report legislative matters that interest them, with heavy doses of photo, video and, naturally, partisanship.
- The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is continuing its strong work watching the Ledge as newspapers around the country reportedly scale back on their own state legislative coverage. The D-G’s work can be found online, though most of its coverage is, sadly, locked down.
But all that’s to say nothing of the growing roster of legislators who are regularly blogging the session themselves: Rep. Robbie Wills (who also Twitters), Rep. Steve Harrelson, Rep. Dan Greenberg, Rep. David “Bubba” Powers and Sen. Larry Teague.
Here’s several state legislators, including the Speaker of the House, cutting out the middlemen of the press and taking their message directly to constituents. They’re giving us early word on what happens under the dome, from the hottest issues of the day to some of the more mundane details of public service. Greenberg’s even fighting back against media coverage with which he doesn’t agree.
These blogs are a great way to keep up with the legislature, and they’ll only grow in number. But it’s important to remember that these sites, like most opinion blogs, represent the views of those who are running them. They’re one food group in a diet of media consumption that’s changing, but still requires balance.
While I’ll read (and enjoy) the legislator blogs, I’ll also rely on the objective eyes of others outside the dome, as well. Fortunately in Arkansas, there’s no shortage of those.
Jill Zeman of the The Associated Press on legislator-bloggers here.