R.I. blogs to monitor new Congress’s first 100 hours
Civic journalism in Rhode Island will take a new twist next week when the 110th U.S. Congress convenes.
In a move they deem “an unprecedented act of Web-based collaboration,” three of Rhode Island’s most popular blogs plan to pool their resources to cover the first 100 hours of the new Democratic-led legislative branch.
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders pledged to tackle a variety of issues in the new Congress’s first 100 hours. The blogs RIFuture.org, Kmareka.com, and Pat-Crowley.org plan to “hold their feet to the fire,” says Matt Jerzyk, of RIFuture, which he says averages about 25,000 page views a day.
The bloggers plan to interview the Rhode Island delegation in the coming days and then to track key issues as they move from commitee to the floors of the respective chambers. Jerzyk, for example, will follow Democratic efforts to allow stem cell research, the implementation of the Sept. 11 Commission’s recommendations, and the rollback of oil company subsidies.
Regular updates and interviews with lawmakers will be shared among the three blogs.
Like many bloggers, the three involved in this effort don’t try to hide their political biases. Pat Crowley, for example, showed up at a U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee press conference before the election wearing a President Bush mask and flight suit — evocative of the president’s famous “mission-accomplished” moment.
Jerzyk helped organize for District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union and worked as a political director for the Rhode Island Young Democrats. And Kiersten Marek describes kmareka.com like this: “Sounds like America but less repressive â€” a place where social workers and citizens speak out.”
What purpose do the blogs serve?
“I sort of see it as a blog is an online, constantly-edited editorial page,” Jerzyk says. “A mishmash of an editorial page and talk radio.”
Yet he sees real news value in the bloggers’ effort to cover the first 100 hours.
“Weâ€™re going to really try to go in depth on this stuff in a way that most news organizations wouldnâ€™t,” he says. “It’s the town hall of the 21st century.”
The online collaboration will go live on Thursday, Jan. 4, the day the new Congress is convened.