Monday, May 18, 2009

Is The Record The "Right" Answer?

A new voice for conservatives recently entered the blogosphere called The Missouri Record.

It's got a sleek look, a neatly organized homepage and the conservative muscle of Patrick Tuohey and Jay Barnes.
The site clearly has a Republican-bent, but Tuohey has promised an arena where opposing views will be represented and stand on their own feet in the battle of ideas.Justify Full

Case in point: one of the first editorials it published came from David Steelman, who wrote a biting critique about the Republican party. Jay Barnes, a former aide to Congressional candidate Bob Onder and ally of Kenny Hulshof, then issued a response. This type of back and forth from two opposing views is not often seen in the current hyper-partisan blogosphere.
Justify FullWhen surveying the blogosphere, the problem isn't the lack of diverse voices. It's trying to find the credible, well-reasoned venues that bring worthwhile thoughts, analysis or new information to the debate.

As blogs have proliferated, they've seem to become more partisan. Nationwide, they're also more liberal blogs out there than conservative blogs.

In Missouri, while there are several conservative-leaning blogs, not one has had the staying power of Fired Up, the go-to website for the Democratic perspective. Fired Up posts more regularly and is cited more by mainstream media blogs than its counterparts. Conservatives might be tempted to say that's because the mainstream media is liberal.

But it may say more about the lack of one cohesive blog that represents the Missouri Republican Party.

Tuohey said he decided to start The Missouri Record after participating in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. He said he observed that people in Missouri have few places to go to either write about their own views or read about the political views of others.

"Campaign sites depend on the fortunes of the campaign and then are focused on a single issue and blogs are often nasty and authored by just one person," Tuohey said. "Several blogs are run by consultants who just act as shills for their clients."

Tuohey said the Record is designed to be a "perpetual and statewide op-ed page of a newspaper, independent of any campaign, party or client."

If Tuohey's stated goal remains pure, that would be a welcome departure. In fact, he won't even call his website a blog. "Although the Record has a blog attached to it, I think it is the least of our offerings," he said.

In the coming weeks, The Record hopes to interview freshman House members from both sides of the aisle and all of the candidates to fill Sen. Kit Bond's seat.

But he said not to look for it to become the conservative answer to Fired Up.

"I don't care for Fired Up's model for several reasons. First, they publish under pseudonym, something we have committed to not do. Second, Fired Up prints personal attacks which I don't care for, and third, Fired Up is so rabidly partisan that it really brings nothing of value to readers, save for making like-minded partisans more angry," Tuohey said. "When you visit Fird Up, you already know what you are getting."

Asked for a response, Fired Up's Sean Nicholson said Tuohey's dislike of Fired Up may be related to his website's reporting "that his efforts on TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) were not a Missouri-based effort, but were instead an Astroturf group based on behalf of New York millionaire Howard Rich."

He added that "a significant portion" of the Fired Up community posts under their own names, and that the decision is left up to the individual user.

Despite their ideological differences, Nicholson said he welcomes The Record to the debate. "If he is trying to build a conservative counterweight to Fired Up, we wish him the best. It'll be the fourth of fifth try," Nicholson said.

Tuohey said he wants to attract a readership that comes for the quality, not because they can guess the content. "Although the three directors who run The Record have a right-of-center worldview, we will publish well-written pieces with which we disagree," Tuohey pledged.

Now just imagine a world where Record contributors could submit the occasional response to appear on Fired Up and vice versa.

Now that'd be content we'd all be interested in.


brian said...

I hadn't check Missouri Pulse until this blog post. I guess that one went under. I remember its nearly sole purpose was to go after Sen McCaskill hard, trying to pin her as someone who wouldn't vote across the aisle. I guess that didn't work out for them.

Desdinova said...

THis is what conservatives need in this state. It is a well-written and well-designed site.

Jason said...

Dave, I checked their site and noticed misleading titles for links to other sites and obvious slant to their articles. It certainly looks flashy and well laid out but to see misleading link titles makes me think this is going to just be an attempt as a conservative version of Fired Up.

Jason said...

For the record, it appears I was wrong about M.R. I contacted their editor about an issue and he was more than gracious about it. Completely different reaction than I've seen from their more liberal counterparts.

You might be right after all about them, Dave.