Herald's Got the 411

In addition to the many things the Herald-Sun does every year to get information to voters, they have now implemented candidate blogs. This is a great idea and it's a good compliment to the forums, editorials, and online "votebook" the Herald already provides (see below).

Greensboro journalist/blogger Ed Cone has some great insight and commentary about the candidate blogs. He has been evangelizing for political blogging for a while, so he should know! I think this is an innovative step for the Herald and I'm glad to see them do this. I hope candidates will take advantage of this unique opportunity to communicate with their potential supporters and constituents.

new user registration form, but then I remembered how many times the Herald's telemarketers called me, for years, trying to get me to subscribe. (After I had unsubscribed due to the H-S's conservative politics.) I'm going to think twice before I give them my phone number again.

Someone else want to register and let us know if there's anything good on the blogs?-->

Here is some more information about the Herald's other voter information outlets, courtesy of Chapel Hill Herald Assistant Editor Ray Gronberg:

We're hoping you can help publicize a few of the things we're doing to cover the election, the most prominent being the series of forums we have coming up starting in late June.

In order, the forums are:

Orange County School Board, Monday, June 28, 7 p.m., Gordon Battle Courtroom, Hillsborough.

House 50 and Senate 23, Wednesday, June 30, 7 p.m., Gordon Battle Courtroom, Hillsborough.

Chatham County School Board, Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m., Northwood High School auditorium.

Chatham County Commissioners, Monday, July 12, 7 p.m., Fearrington Barn.

Orange County Commissioners, Wednesday, July 14, 7 p.m., Chapel Hill Town Hall council chamber.

In addition, we'll be posting the candidates' answers to The Chapel Hill Herald's
campaign-season Votebook questionnaire at http://www.heraldsun.com/votebook, and will give each candidate a chance to run their own blog at http://www.heraldsun.com/votebook/blogs. More traditionally, we'll also be giving each candidate a chance to publish a 550-word guest editorial in The Chapel Hill Herald starting in June.

As you can see, there will be lots of chances for candidates to communicate with
those who they'd represent. Please help us get the word out so we might maximize the information voters will take with them to the polls. Thanks in advance for your help.




It's an exciting experiment, it sounds like you've got things locked, and I can't wait to see what happens. Good for the H-S.


p.s. To others: The H-S does not pay my salary anymore. This post is an independent expression of what Ruby describes on another thread as personal "geekiness." I just like newspapers, and I like to see them do new things that will (hopefully) ensure their relevance into the future. As much as I like bloggers, I like journalists better. (Begin debate on blogging v. journalism here ____________.)

I just checked the Herald Sun blogger section and while it has great potential as an idea, there aren't enough candidates participating to make it worthwhile. Also, I see no reason why the Herald Sun needs my address and phone number to give me a user account.


Hi Ray,

When are you going to provide links in your candidate notebooks to candidates' websites and email addresses?




For the most part we're going to be pretty laissez-faire about the blogs. We've got profanity filters, but beyond that we're not going to be obsessively or even unobsessively monitoring.

You mention bloggers who might decide not to blog. Well, that's their call. If they want out, we take them out. This is voluntary, after all.

As for bloggers possibly getting squeamish about certain posts, I don't see that happening if comments are made in the spirit of the entreaty on this site to "play nice."

But we all know there are trolls about. You and Ruby said at the blog seminar at UNC that this site has had troll trouble. I guess I have faith that the local blog community will, as the entreaty at right says, "play nice," and treat all candidate bloggers with respect, even if they disagree.



Thanks for that experienced and thoughtfull response to my concerns. You brought up several things I didn't know or have even thought of. Cool! That's why I love OP.org!

I am hopefull that politicians will see the value of a FAIR digital DEMOCRACY. But right now it seems as if there is a serious Digital Generation Gap.

I hope our representatives are reading 'cause blogs, or blog like tools, *can* provide the reform to our political system we ALL despertly need.

Brian--if you'd like to know more about e-government the Pew Charitable Trust's American Life Project just did a fairly thorough review. For a summary and then link see the e-democracy blog at:


FYI--the Chapel Hill Technology Advisory Committee is advocating for more e-government type services. Carrboro is leading the way in the area.

Part of me has some serious concerns about a traditional media outlet entering the world of blogging--another part of me thinks it's great. For those of you interested in one take on the relationship between blogging and news media outlets, see:


Bloggers Are Force for Change in Big Media

....Though these are cases of Big Media bowing to the influence of bloggers, few people believe bloggers have reached widespread public credibility. Rosen says that Weblogs are slowly gaining some influence and some respectability. "What's clear from these cases is that news organizations will have to interact with bloggers who have hold of something newsy," he said. "And there's no doubt bloggers can break stories and will do more of that in the future ... The larger effects may be on bloggers' credibility among journalists."

Ray, what level of participation can the public have in the forums?

For instance, if I had a question for candidate X, will I have an opportunity to ask it?

I am a bit concerned that a for profit news source, such as the Herald-Sun, would offer blogs for "free" to political candidates. Nothing is really free right?

Ask yourself, "What do both parties have to gain?" ...

You think that politicians can spin a news story now..think about how a weblog could automate THAT?


Newspapers have long given free space to candidates to express their views, as they give free space to other citizens on occasion in guest columns and in letters to the editor. There is no election law problem here, that I know of. I'd rather see a media outlet give away news hole/air time, than to charge for it, thereby crowding out candidates with less money. Candidates who want to pay for space can still buy advertisements, I'm sure.

Candidates should like this concept because it deals with the problems inherent to the ubiquitous interest-group questionnaire: poorly worded questions, questions that don't get to the heart of the matter, questionnaires that don't allow sufficient space for a full answer. In addition to filling out the ever-proliferating raft of candidate questionnaires, the candidates will be able to fully express themselves on the blog if they feel the need to explain themselves at greater length.

As far as the spinning issue goes, the good thing about the Herald-Sun's blogs is that they allow you to post a comment to each of the blog entries, just like you can posts comments to posts on this blog. If anything, candidates might find out how difficult it is to spin a subject when a dozen people, each with no particular role except that of a citizen, are waiting to rebut you right there alongside your post. If it works, and the candidates are active bloggers, you might find that you have more opportunity to question the candidates directly than you've had before.

That is, if they embrace the concept. Few candidates have signed up yet, but I guess it's just getting started. (Come on, candidates -- get your blogs going. Don't wimp out.) And if this drives more traffic to the Herald-Sun's web site, I don't think I have a problem with the paper benefiting from providing a public service.

Questions: I wonder what the Herald-Sun's rules are, and how they will edit the blogs, if at all? Can a candidate demand that his/her blog be removed if the comments aren't going their way? Will they cull the blog for unfair/libelous/untruthful comments posted by commenters? It looks like one can post anonymously (and for free), but that the Herald-Sun will retain actual name/contact information in their files. I suppose that makes sense, legally. More legal info here: http://www.heraldsun.com/legal/terms.html

Anyway, I like it. Can we post links to each of the Orange candidates' blogs as they are established, perhaps in the "Links" section of op.org?

In answer to Will's question, we'll bring 3x5 cards to our forums and pass them out to folks who want to ask a question. We'll have them write out what they want to ask, and then relay the questions to the moderator.


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