The End of Florida Progressive Coalition

In 2004, after the re-election of George W. Bush, which was shocking to me, I was kind of at a loss as to what to do in terms of blogging. I had been blogging since 1998, mostly about national topics. But the national blogosphere was clogged and I wasn’t covering national politics from any kind of angle that others weren’t covering better than I was. And it was clear that I needed to try to do something that would have more of an impact, otherwise I wouldn’t feel satisfied with my place in the political world. So, after talking to a number of other bloggers around the state, Florida Progressive Coalition was launched. I shifted my focus to state-level politics, something that was being very poorly covered both by the mainstream media and by bloggers. FPC launched in 2005.

Two major problems were identified. One, that people didn’t have enough information about state and local politics. The media did a poor job of covering it and since state politics was drastically different from national politics, most of us, me included, didn’t have enough inherent knowledge about how things worked. In order to do a good job of covering Florida politics, bloggers needed to increase their knowledge of the players in the system, the rules of the system and the issues important to the state. A second major problem was that there wasn’t much money being put into covering politics, be it the media or blogging, and without some kind of influx of cash into the system, few, if any people, would be able to devote enough time to learning about the system to do it justice.

More than six years later, these problems have never been solved. Media coverage of state and local politics is much worse now than it was then. And because of silly laws like term limits, the system is so frequently changing that I’ve found, personally, that my knowledge of state politics is actually getting worse. And I don’t have the time or resources to fix that problem. Few state-level bloggers in the country have found models of funding that allow them to devote serious time to state and local politics. The overwhelming majority of bloggers from the 50 states that were invited to a state-level blogger summit in 2007 are no longer blogging about state politics. Only a few blogs that cover state and local politics can pay their bills, much less pay salaries to their writers.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t solve either of these problems. I’ve tried numerous different approaches to it and none of them have worked. Some of that is the difficulty of the problems, which are widespread across the country at the state level. Some of it is because of my own personal failings. Since 2009, I’ve been divided among numerous projects and have never been able to devote the time to FPC that I need to, usually because paying gigs have to take priority. And because other FPC writers also have to have paying gigs and I never found a way to pay them or a way to inspire them to work extensively for FPC for free (except for a few people over the years for periods of time), FPC never became what it could’ve been and what it needed to be. And I see no way that is going to change.

On top of that, one of the key reasons, as I mentioned above, that I moved my focus to state politics was that my voice wasn’t adding to the national conversation. Now that I have been writing for Crooks and Liars on labor issues (and other topics) for nearly nine months, that’s not true any more. Thousands of people read my national writing each week and I regularly see my posts get picked up by other blogs and websites. And there are only a few national bloggers focused on labor issues. And there are a lot more labor stories that we need to cover than are currently covered. And labor issues are truly one of the key battlegrounds in American politics these days and one of the most important battles we have to win.

So, I have decided that I am ending my time as executive director of Florida Progressive Coalition and, barring someone else stepping up to take over, the blog will end. I’m not going to take the site down, but I won’t be publishing any future content. I’m willing to entertain offers from others if they are interested in taking over and maintaining FPC in whatever way they see fit and I’m certainly hoping that someone will pick up on the wiki and continue to add content to it, since it is a valuable resource for Floridians. One thing I know is that I can’t do it anymore and I have to shift my time and efforts more fully to the battles that I know more about and I have more of a chance to successfully pursue. FPC no longer fits that description.

The last things I will post here will be the continuation of the 2012 Florida Netroots Awards, and after that I will entertain offers to take that over, too.

It’s been a great few years and I’ve learned more than I ever expected and met more great people than I could’ve imagined, but it’s time to move on to other projects.

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6 thoughts on “The End of Florida Progressive Coalition

  1. Sorry to see the FPC go. Over the years we spent many hours and a great deal of effort to provide an unparalleled resource for political bloggers in Florida. Unfortunately, with the exception of the hard work done by a core group of contributors, the FPC was an underutilized resource.

    Despite it’s shortcomings, the FPC led Florida’s political blogosphere in many ways, most notably when we were granted media credentials to cover the 2008 Democratic National Convention. No other Florida political blog attempted or accomplished what the FPC did. We created and managed a political wiki of Florida politics and pioneered in the use of internet radio shows on the subject of Florida politics. We were the first Florida political site to attempt social microblogging and among the first to utilize social media sites like facebook and twitter. Some of those who worked alongside us became key players in statewide and national political movements. We have much to be proud of.

    Though I parted with the FPC a couple of years ago, I remain proud of what we were able to do with no money and so few who were committed so deeply.

    Kenneth, I thank you for your vision and leadership and I cherish the time I worked alongside you and our other worthy members. Thank you for bringing together such a great team and for what we were able to achieve under your leadership. My deepest appreciation also goes out to all those whose efforts made the FPC something unique and special. All the best in your future endeavors.

  2. Sorry to see you go, Kenneth, but glad you’re keeping a hand in politics via your labor writings.

    Also glad you’ll keep up the Netroots awards … it seems one of the few ways progressive Floridians can cohere and get recognized. It’s a shame FL can’t be as Netroots-oriented as other states; then again, we’ve never been a hotbed of liberal thinking.

    Again, thanks for administrating the awards.

  3. Ken,

    I’ve always thought the world of you and as part of the FPC from the early days, I feel it’s okay for me to ask why you felt the need to make this decision on your own without reaching out to other members of the FPC as well as the Florida blogosphere?

    “Coalition” would imply a membership of some sort and with all due respect, I count many “I’s in your post.

    Myself, I’ve had concerns regarding the FPC these last several years, but chose to keep up the good fight and not air my grievances in public; however, I would have been happy to kick around the can in group discussion.

    Finally, your observation “The overwhelming majority of bloggers from the 50 states that were invited to a state-level blogger summit in 2007 are no longer blogging about state politics” is truly sad commentary. Floridians–specifically state employees working for the current governor and this hideous Legislature–likely don’t have the time or inclination to blog, basically because they have been beat down every single day since Scott took office. There is not BETTER time than these days to blog about state politics.

    Florida may not be a hotbed of liberal thinking, but Florida does have a hotbed of liberals/progressives putting themselves out on the line every single day because they believe in the state of Florida, of bringing the state back to the Paradise many of us remember as children.

    I wish you well and many thanks for your efforts over the years. My hopes are the FPC continues on in some format.

    Keep in mind, those who work on behalf of the greater good often go unpaid and unrecognized.


  4. What’s needed is a lot of people with fat trust funds and strong consciences. Thanks, Ken, for doing so much.

  5. You will be missed. I share your disappointment and frustration regarding the indifference of large numbers of people who share progressive beliefs yet refuse to become actively involved. I fully understand their feelings of being overwhelmed with the “shock and awe” produced by massive financial interests that have purchased American legislators. America has become a plutocracy.
    Recognizing all of that, I wish to repeat the respect I have for all of your past efforts as well as your present decision.