HAPPY FOURTH BIRTHDAY ROOM EIGHT NEW YORK POLITICS
Five summers ago, Ben Smith -pioneer blogger extraordinaire- had the hottest blogging site in NYC. As far as I can recall, he was working for the Daily Observer Newspaper back then. This blog-site (the Politicker) is still around, but is nowhere as informative or as lively as it was in 2005. Maybe it is because most political entities now have strict rules for employees who used to troll blogs on company time back then.
Ben went on to work with the New York Daily News and created the blog-site that Liz Benjamin ably handles today. It’s where most political junkies check in daily to find out what’s going on in New York’s politics. For old-timers in this game, a day without Liz is like a day without your low-dose Cialis pills: it’s that good. But prior to this, Ben Smith hooked up with another visionary named Gur Tsabar and launched the blog-site aptly named “Room Eight New York Politics”: that was back in March of 2006. After four years it is still around; but what does the future hold for it?
The original idea was to have a site where writers could come in and post political columns for public comment; thus both founders invited politically active/connected people to join this writer’s colony. I was a reluctant recruit, but in time I was glad to be part of this vision and investment. The site welcomed and encouraged political discourse; no issue was sacred. In time it grew to where even elected officials started posting articles here. At its zenith I am told that there were about twenty thousand virgin hits a month. I suspect that the number is lower today since comments have ostensibly fallen off with time. The threads aren’t too lively anymore: a lively thread is more an exception than the rule. And it is not that the quality from the prolific writers has fallen off; in my estimation the relatively high standards set here have prevailed reasonably well.
In terms of success, we even had two prolific bloggers from Room Eight (Gatemouth and myself) selected to officially cover the democrats last presidential convention (Obama coronation/lol) -last summer in Denver. Sure, the selection was a bit controversial, but it was deserved and I offer no apologies (except for not having a lap top computer in Colorado). We didn’t pull strings nor did we bribe anyone. We simply developed a following over time, due to our consistence and insistence that our voices were needed in NY politics. There are very very few political events that I go to nowadays, where someone doesn’t laud my columns, and applaud both my information and insights. I say this with humility -and you don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to/lol.
Today, Ben Smith works for “Politico”, which is definitely one of the premier sources for political information throughout this country. His blog column at Politico is a daily hit for me still. His talent has landed him on CNN and other formidable news/media entities many times over, and his passion for news and politics is still as strong as ever. Ben and Gur (New York Times) still man the site Room Eight New York Politics. They still edit my columns with little or no fuss, and afford me leeway and courtesies that many others refuse to. I am lucky that they have befriended me.
I remember a few years ago, I wrote to Ben and Gur about recruiting new blood for the site. I still feel that the site’s impact and influence will continue to wane unless we do this. I have tried to play my part in recruitment. I have brought a few writers here -one or two have stayed. I had hoped that we could have found activists from every borough (or every New York State county), who were willing to express themselves here, and/or willing to inform readers as to the political happenings in their neck of the woods: I was wrong. It just hasn’t materialized. I regret this since I feel we are on a vine slowly dying and I would hate to see this site die. I am already watching the “Daily Gotham” blog-site slowly die; likewise “Queens Crap”. I am saddened by this. We need some new blood here. We need some young blood here. It’s overdue.
If Room Eight dies, who will cover the areas of politics where mainstream media fears to thread? Who will address/cover the races that mainstream media ignores? Who will invigorate and stimulate the much needed discussions on the state of New York’s politics? Who will edify the voters as to the need for more civic participation by John and Joan Q. Public? Who will critique the “powers that be” when they need to be held accountable? Who will tell it as it is in the comments section? Who will tune in to real debates on policies and personalities?
The reason why political involvement in this country is at such a nadir can be traced to the mediocre job being done by the fourth and fifth estate. By fourth estate I am talking about mainstream media (as per our founding fathers); by fifth estate I am talking about the alternative mediums which have sprung up through technological advancements over the years (and yes: I coined this phrase). They both have a responsibility to aid in the perpetuation of a civilized democracy.
Please don’t think for a minute that things cannot deteriorate to a level worse than what we are seeing from these carpet bagging “tea baggers”: who are nothing but low-life Republicans trying to find a disguise for their despicable racial, hateful, inhumane and uncivilized behaviors. When people like ex-congressmen Tancredo and Gingrich (who should know better) can openly articulate bile and filth with impunity, then we are in trouble folks: we are. Ignorance and stupidity needs to be exposed at every chance since they are too dangerous in their potential; blog-sites like Room Eight New York Politics can help in this regard, and that’s why it needs to be cherished, respected, nurtured and developed. It is time to push back on these Neanderthals running around the polity contaminating others, and that’s why we need blog-sites like Room Eight New York Politics to be vibrant and informative. Happy Birthday Room Eight: stay up and stay strong. Hats off to Ben and Gur: I love these two white brothers.
And do stay tuned in folks.
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