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.