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Daily Journal

What Have You Been Reading?

Jun. 30th, 2008
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RALEIGH – What have you been reading lately?

If you’re interested in North Carolina politics, chances are that in the past couple of years you’ve been spending more and more time online, getting real-time information and instant feedback about major stories and controversies. Institutional voices – metro newspapers, broadcasters, interest groups, and think tanks such as JLF – have devoted substantial resources to serving their growing online audience (even as advertiser-driven media struggle to monetize that audience as a replacement for fading print-ad budgets). Meanwhile, the state’s political blogosphere has continued to grow, change, and mature. Its expanding circumference includes not just these institutional offerings but also a wide variety of personal blogs and boards.

Political campaigns are adjusting to the new consumption patterns, though not easily or quickly. It’s not easy to move from a daily or weekly news cycle to one denominated by hours or minutes. And campaigns can’t yet afford to downplay the traditional avenues for political communication, including broadcast advertising, given that the online audience for politics isn’t truly massive and remains disproportionately populated by partisans, not swing voters.

Still, everyone can see the direction things are going. Only the pace of change may be debatable.

At JLF, we started some of the first online sites devoted to North Carolina politics and public policy more than a decade ago. Over the years, we’ve added specialized sites devoted to particular issues and regions of the state, while continuing to add functions to our main sites and In the coming months, you’ll see both sites transformed again. will add functions designed to guide searches for speakers or specific issues as well as help you navigate the online data sets of state and local governments, as part of our transparency project. will undergo the most radical change with the debut of Carolina Journal Television, a unique blend of original news and analysis programming we’ve been working on for some time, and a new Carolina Journal Radio page with a daily program guide for North Carolina talk radio.

Once again, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, readers, for your patronage, comments, and suggestions. If you aren’t also checking out our blogs, I’d encourage you to do so. “The Locker Room” is our group blog, featuring comments and crosstalk from JLF staff, adjuncts, and friends. Our regional blogs focus the discussion on five of the state’s major metropolitan areas. All have grown substantially in traffic in recent months.

One measure I use to track trends in North Carolina’s political blogosphere is the weekly ranking from the aggregator BlogNetNews. Averaging the ranks over 13 weeks, here’s a list of the 20 most-influential blogs devoted to state politics and public policy:

The Locker Room
Under the Dome blog (N&O)*
Right Angles (JLF Triangle blog)
The Meck Deck (JLF Charlotte blog)

The Progressive Pulse (NC Policy Watch)
Squall Lines (JLF Wilmington/Coastal blog)
The Wild West (JLF Asheville/Mountains blog)

Scrutiny Hooligans
Talking About Politics
Public Policy Polling
Carolina Politics Online
Capital Beat (News & Record)*
Political Connections (News 14 Carolina)*
Charlotte Business News (Charlotte Business Journal*
Ed Cone
Piedmont Publius (JLF Triad blog)
Red Clay Citizen (Civitas Institute)

Isaac Hunter’s Tavern (WUNC-FM)*
Cabarrus Cheap Seats

Of the 20, nine are right-of-center blogs (boldface), five are left-of-center blogs (italics), five are published by news reporters (*), and one is opinionated but ideologically balanced (Talking About Politics). There’s plenty here, and beyond, to suit whatever interests or preferences you have.

So, what are you going to read tomorrow?

Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation.