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Maryland blogs to watch in 2008

Sometime today Brian Griffiths will steal a bit of my thunder. Independently we both worked out a top 20 list for Maryland political blogs based on the BlogNetNews Influence index for the year (and it comes out the same since we used the same methodology! Great minds think alike?) So I’m going to allow him to post his list, but since I’m a forward-looking sort I’m going to go through some of the blogs to watch in 2008. Most of these are on the BlogNetNews list already for 2007 but there’s a few who aren’t or didn’t make the top 20 list Brian and I compiled.

These will be listed in alphabetical order, with their BlogNetNews rank in parentheses if it applies. I automatically took those who were in the top ten of the ratings over the last two months since they’re ones who are most relevant now, not resting on their laurels built up during the summer and fall.

Annapolis Capital Punishment (overall rank 14th, last 2 months 8th)

Since Paul Foer, the writer of ACP, is a self-proclaimed “progressive” don’t expect to actually find any talk about the death penalty here. His focus tends to be on Annapolis proper and as most bloggers do he finds fault with the way things are run. I’m certainly not one who agrees with the political side of his equation (after all, he has the 01.20.09 countdown on his site) but watchdogs are good from both sides of the fence.

Annapolis Politics (overall rank 12th, last 2 months 7th)

Brian Gill is one of my fellow contributors at Red Maryland, so as one might expect he’s on the conservative side. He got his blog cranking up over last summer and since becoming a RM contributor he’s amped up the posting schedule, keeping it pretty regular on both sides. As the title suggests, he focuses a lot on Anne Arundel-area items but since that’s the state capital, a good deal of state doings creep in as well.

Brian Griffiths (overall rank 1st, last 2 months 1st)

Another Red Maryland stalwart, Brian is also a busy guy off the blogs as he’s running to be a Delegate to the Republican Party’s national convention in Minneapolis. You may have also run across the Brian Griffiths Minute on his website – he’s definitely a guy who’s mastered the video medium as well. Brian’s a guy to watch in state politics and this makes me wonder if a run for higher elective office isn’t somewhere in his future.

Free State Politics (overall rank 3rd, last 2 months 5th)

Billing itself as an “Maryland’s online progressive commmunity”, the site has a number of contributors who look at issues from the left side of the spectrum. It’s the counterbalance to Red Maryland which, in a poorly-executed case of foreshadowing, also appears farther down the list. And of course a good part of their blog is smack-talk at those of us who contribute to Red Maryland, but that’s to be expected I suppose.

Gunpowder Chronicle (BNN member but not ranked)

I’m placing this website on my list because I want to see all of his ideas on how to “starve the beast,” that beast being the government plaguing our state capital. Generally the site is well written, my only knock on it is how sporadically the posts come up. If the feature can be a regular one, this is definitely a website to keep an eye on. I believe if he can make that series a success, he’ll have a top 20 website in 2008.

Hedgehog Report (overall rank 6th, last 2 months 18th)

The first of my cohorts in the Maryland Bloggers Alliance, David Wissing spends a lot of time looking at polling data on a national scale. Having just celebrated his 5th anniversary as a blogger, he’s probably the dean of political bloggers in Maryland (or at least right up there) and with this being an election year, Hedgehog Report is a great place to get a poll fix and see how your favored candidate is doing.

Maryland Politics Today (overall rank 10th, last 2 months not rated)

P. Kenneth Burns took a short hiatus from active blogging, which is why he wasn’t rated in November or December. But he has returned to the fold over the last few days. Kenny also is an MBA member and a Red Maryland contributor, but makes his living in other areas of the media so his site has a more professional look than most. Before his hiatus his was a good political resource, so welcome back. I’m expecting good things from you this year.

Maryland Politics Watch (overall rank 19th, last 2 months 9th)

Here’s another group effort coming from the left side of the blogosphere. As the name suggests, these folks look mostly at state politics but from the Montgomery County perspective. Obviously that gives them a built-in audience. They don’t seem to have the element of smack talk that their fellow travelers at Free State Politics do but that may change as they become more noticed. They made the top 20 with their late push so momentum is on their side.

monoblogue (overall rank 2nd, last 2 months 2nd)

Yeah, I’m number 2 so I guess I try harder. Since you’re here (or my crosspost on Red Maryland) reading this it’s probably apparent what I’m about so I don’t need to describe myself too much. Some of my goals for 2008 are here.

O’Malley Watch (not a BNN member)

If this website were in the rankings, I think the rest of us would be knocked down a peg just based on the number of comments Martin Watcher gets. Pointing out the many flaws of the O’Malley administration, not only is the site pretty well written and updated regularly, it also has a number of regular commenters who add a lot to the discussion. Of course, its shelf life will depend on what Hillary decides to do for VP should she get the nomination – Brown Watch sounds like an anti-UPS site.

Pocomoke Tattler (overall rank 7th, last 2 months 3rd)

One small Eastern Shore community on the Virginia border + one man who considers himself a watchdog against the corruption he sees in his city’s government = Pocomoke Tattler. In a lot of respects, Billy Burke works as the investigative reporter that small town newspapers don’t have. It’s one of the advantages of the internet and the opportunity to have your voice heard even when those in control don’t want to listen. His is a true “petition (to) the Government for a redress of grievances.”

PolitickerMD (not a BNN member)

One of a network of similar sites in other states, PolitickerMD reads the most like a news site as it posts frequent nuggets about political doings in our state. I’ve noted that it’s “must-reading for political junkies” and it should prove to be a good resource for information from all across the state as the Congressional elections occur.

Red Maryland (overall rank 5th, last 2 months 4th)

This site works because it has a number of different viewpoints on how best to combat the liberal scourge both here in Maryland and nationally. None of us (there’s 15 contributors who add content to various degrees) are too shy about expressing our opinions and having Red Maryland gives all of us an opportunity to expose these to a wider audience. That wide participation means that a cornucopia of subjects are covered and the site updates frequently.

Salisbury News (overall rank 4th, last 2 months 6th)

Joe Albero and I have a friendly sort of rivalry going among Salisbury-area bloggers, but he tends to be more along the lines of Pocomoke Tattler and focus on local political issues whereas I generally do not. He has branched out somewhat in the last year though, in particular securing first rights to weekly updates from Andy Harris’s Congressional campaign. But his biggest rival is our local paper, the Daily Times, and he loves to scoop them when it comes to breaking news.

Worcester Right (overall rank 15th, last 2 months 10th)

In general, Worcester Right is a news roundup site although “Caughtit” does chime in with original opinion posts occasionally. I’ll definitely say that he (or she) is a well-read person because there’s a number of different stories on a daily basis from all over the news. Oddly enough given the name there’s not a lot of emphasis on local issues from the Ocean City and Snow Hill area.

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So these are fifteen blogs to keep an eye on for 2008. As is often the case, some of these will thrive while others fade away or take extended breaks. One thing that tends to be a common thread between these is their frequency of posting as the contributors place a lot of time and effort into maintaining their sites.

While it’s true a small percentage of people actually read blogs on a regular basis, consider that it was only in the last decade that political campaigns began to use the World Wide Web as a tool to sway voters – yet it’s made candidates like Howard Dean in 2004 or Ron Paul this year much better known than their actual political jobs. Recently Ron Paul raised over $6 million in one day primarily through the internet so its power is being realized. These fifteen websites are among the pioneers who take the arrows and as more and more people get their news online, their power and stature is sure to grow in this pivotal election year.

Crossposted on monoblogue.






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