New Post Web site uses Internet well

Weblogs best part of PoliticsWest.com

Sept. 8, 2007

by David Kopel

The Denver Post'smotto has long been "Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire." The Posthas taken a huge step forward in living up to its motto with the launch of its new PoliticsWest.com Web site. Although the Web site has room for improvement, it is a great example of how a newspaper can use the Internet to significantly expand its political coverage and commentary.

Of course there's the usual collection of stuff that's already available in the print edition of the Postand on the main PostWeb site: articles from the Poststaff, or by The Associated Press. Notably, the Web site also links to stories from specialized sources such as Roll Call(a venerable D.C. weekly newspaper that covers Congress) and Politico.com (a new, high-quality Web newspaper that covers national politics). Very helpfully, PoliticsWest has a good collection of political weblogs, from both the right and the left, for each of the Rocky Mountain states.

The most interesting part of PoliticsWest, however, is its own weblogs. The first is called The Gang of Four. It was built to feature left-leaning Postmetro columnist Diane Carman and blogger David Sirota vs. right-leaning Postcolumnist David Harsanyi and Postopinion columnist John Andrews (who, by the way, founded the Independence Institute).

Naming the blog after mass-murdering Chinese communist totalitarians was neither auspicious nor accurate. First of all, Carman writes for the blog only occasionally. Harsanyi and Andrews write more often, but, even combined, they can't match the prolific Sirota, who has single-handedly accounted for the lion's share of the blog entries. (Unfortunately, Sirota has just announced he'll be leaving the blog for the next few weeks to attend to other duties.)

This week, the Gang of Four added two "guests of the gang": conservative Denver writer Joshua Sharf and former Postmetro columnist Jim Spencer. They are among a group of guest writers who will rotate in and out. I once called Spencer a representative of the "angry left," but compared to Sirota, Spencer is as calm and amiable as Mister Rogers.

Sirota has a wide range of interests and knowledge on Western issues, but class antagonism is clearly his favorite topic. His writing would be better if he took some lessons from Carman and learned how to present his viewpoint without so much interpersonal rancor.

Another PoliticsWest blog, Washington and the West, by Christa Marshall, provides summaries of stories from other sources (e.g. the Los Angeles Timesblog, the Des Moines Register, theGreeley Tribune) about Colorado's congressional delegation, the presidential race, and other issues. The format is news rather than opinion.

The best writing, however, can be found on another group blog, the misnamed Diary of a Mad Voter. Joan McCarter, a contributing editor for the leftie monster-blog DailyKos, writes from Idaho. A recent piece explained the Idaho Republican infighting over who might replace Sen. Larry Craig. McCarter too could give Sirota advice on how to write forcefully without being nasty.

Montanan JP Pendleton is a somewhat disillusioned former Republican staffer who writes mainly about civility in political and personal life. The only Mad Voter who gets mad once in a while is self-proclaimed Montana "redneck" Dan Rostad. A recent article took on Michael Moore, and included video from Kevin Leffler's new documentary Shooting Michael Moore,which exposes some of Moore's deceptions, financial scams, destruction of wetlands, and hypocrisy (his trust has owned shares of Halliburton and many other big businesses).

Finally, my Independence Institute colleague Jessica Peck Corry writes from a libertarian perspective, arguing in her most recent column that Republicans should realize that "gay people can be conservative and conservatives can be gay."

PoliticsWest could free up space near the top of its home page by getting rid of FundRace 2008. It's an application from the lefty national Web site, The Huffington Post, which allows you to search online records of presidential and national party campaign contributions. You can enter someone's name, or you can search by ZIP code, to see who your neighbors are contributing to. However, it's a misuse of finite space for content that isn't created by a Postwriter. Moreover, FundRace is a lame database. You can get more thorough results, including contributions to congressional races, from OpenSecrets.org. For example, in a ZIP code search for 80401, OpenSecrets reported 155 different contributions to federal campaigns for the 2008 election cycle. For the same ZIP code for the same period in FundRace, there were only 41 listings. FundRace also misspells the names of two candidates - forgetting to capitalize the "C" in McCain and calling our 6th District congressman "Tan" Tancredo.

 

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