One Year of The Same Rowdy Crowd — Now What?

It’s been a year since the first post on this blog. Gary Hornseth, one of our writers, suggests we call this a “pilot” year. Figure out what’s been good, keep that, dump what hasn’t worked, and come up with some new stuff.

We appreciate you folks who’ve been reading us during this year, and love the lively discussions you’ve added to the blog. The comments are often better — and often rowdier — than the posts. We love that we’ve attracted people who disagree with us and are willing and eager to pound on us.

We’ve been limping lately. Not posting daily. We don’t have enough writers putting up enough smart stuff.

We’ve had some great internal email discussions among the writers about whether this blog is worth continuing. I think it is, mostly because I’ve had a gas doing it and reading what other people have to say. It’s been a great outlet for shooting my mouth off, connecting with friends, hearing new voices and keeping my writing fingers tapping.

The biggest issue about the value of the blog is whether we are willing to take on enough local issues, fearlessly, to be worth reading. All of us make our living from consulting with clients, or teaching, or both. If we really chew on local people in the communications and journalism business, will we have any clients left? If we just write namby-pamby stuff, or write too much about national and international stuff (used to be called “Afghanistanism,” back when Afghanistan seemed far away, and editorial writers would comment about far-off issues rather than piss off local advertisers) we won’t have or deserve any readers.

We have taken on some local companies, and the ensuing comments have been great fun to read. And we’re all still making a living. One local company, Thomson West, recently engaged me for training even though one of our writers had criticized the company for its desire for taxpayer help. The West folks were aware of the posts, and hired one of the Rowdies anyway. That’s pretty cool — they understand that criticism is part of public policy and public debate.

We’ve kept our stable of writers to independent consultants and one college teacher — thinking that a writer of posts who works for a company would feel too constrained to be rowdy. But it turns out we independents have been pretty constrained ourselves. Maybe our idea of independence hasn’t been working.

So let’s ask our readers (and to my surprise we still have hundreds) — what do you want from this blog? How can it be better? What should we be doing that we’re not doing? What should we be writing about? Should we keep going into year two?

–Benidt

13 thoughts on “One Year of The Same Rowdy Crowd — Now What?

  1. Kelly Groehler says:

    Oh, Haley, that sounds just peachy!

    Geez, give yourselves a break. You’ve had a pretty impressive first year, even if you have slipped in recent weeks into the massive rathole of analyzing presidential posturing techniques… zzz…

    Here’s my advice: Be fearless. We all are in the public domain, and thus need to be grown up when facing the criticism or the praise that may come our way through these posts. Heck, there has been more than one moment when I would have loved to hear the crowd’s perspectives on something we were tackling over here.

    So keep it up. There’s plenty to get rowdy about.

  2. The Analyst says:

    How are you liberals dealing with Hillary’s demise?

    I get the feeling you’re all on the Obama Train, what with him being the next JFK and all.

    And what’s up with Teddy and Caroline throwing Hillary under the bus?

  3. I feel your pain.

    As a business owner, I moderated my public expressions not so much for fear of losing business or pissing off clients — though that was a possibility I could accept. I was more concerned that my employees should not suffer for my personal politics for the same reasons.

    To the extent you’re free agents, that’s less of a concern.

    Clients who know you already probably won’t have an issue. Those who are hiring you for your advice will either appreciate your candor or you wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. Support your opinions with facts and the wisdom of your years. You’ve earned a little slack.

    There’s another reason to continue. A lot of bloggers I read don’t have much deep insight into business and how it operates. While you can be critical of dumb moves, you can also illuminate smart ones — especially those that are misunderstood by the public.

    You have a pretty nice niche in communications. The closer you stick to that slant when commenting on issues, the better it’ll be for your blog and your business.

    Ultimately, though, you’re still working and so you also have to ask yourselves: Are we passionate about this? How high does blogging rank in our personal priorities?

    If this Crowd is short of anything, it’s not writers. It’s passion.

  4. Your Mom says:

    One whole year, huh?

    Wow. I’m underwhelmed.

    You give yourselves too much credit in the post above. This blog is less than not interesting, it’s not relevant. It’s like seeing a white booger in some kid’s nostril while playing at the local swimming pool: hard to look at, easy to wipe away and forget.

    Your “rowdy” style is nothing more than masturbation–a bitter, homemade salad dressing of self-gratification and a self-indulgent ramblings no more relevant than Ted Kaczynski’s mad screed. Yuck. Please wash your hands before stroking another key on the keyboard.

    You all have nothing novel to say–local, national, international, intergalactic or otherwise. You want to be an issue-oriented blog, but you are too scared to have an opinion beyond what one can find on the DFL’s Web site. You all want to talk PR, but you never take on any local reporters directly, look at good local PR and, god forbid, look at bad local PR.

    And, come to think of it, I can’t think of a reason to ever come back here.

    Good-bye.

    – Your Mom

  5. Wait Mommy - Don't Go! says:

    This blog has been useful insofar as it has revealed – and validated – evidence of the profound liberalism that has permeated and plagued the Star Tribune newsroom …. that is until the paper’s monopoly was disrupted by the Internet and these people were cast out into the street, err I mean, reality.

    Let this blog serve as a living monument to olde dying media and what happens when liberalism ossifies an organization.

    Love, Grandma

  6. Dennis Lang says:

    I’m shocked! As a newcomer to cyberspace and definitely not a blog-follower (I gather there are literally billions) I stumbled upon TSRC about a month ago because one of the contributers is a very familiar name. He encouraged his journalism students to go after the “hidden truths. Tell me something I wouldn’t know unless you tell it to me.” This is a very enticing aspiration. So, what happened–everyone just get lazy? Yes, it requires more than anything else passion doesn’t it? Maybe we’re all destined to simply rehash what the rest of the world is talking about. Can’t you folks pump some new vitality and imagination into it and keep things breathing? An anonymous demise too depressing to remotely contemplate. (That is one tough Mom above.)

  7. AvgJoe says:

    Well Mom, it’s not easy, it’s not easy. And they couldn’t do it if they just didn’t, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, they have so many opportunities for this country. They just don’t want to see us fall backwards, no. This is very personal for them. It’s not just political. It’s not just public. They see what’s happening. They have to reverse it. And some people think blogs are a game, it’s like who’s up or who’s down. It’s about our country. It’s about our kids’ futures.

  8. Jorg Pierach says:

    Mommy Dearest: Really? You’re going to taunt the Rowdies for lack of courage? Anonymously!!? Guess that makes you one brave Mother …

    To the Rowdies: All of you are highly in demand, and very good at what you do professionally. That was true before you launched this blog, and it will be true long after you shutter its pixilated doors. So why lobotomize yourselves? Sprinkle in more musings about baseball. Music. New books. Old books. Travel. Restaurants. Movies. Parenthood. Interesting people you meet. You know, all the stuff you chew on over drinks with friends, some of whom also pay you to help figure out marketing or communications issues.

    Keep writing. And make mine a double

  9. Dennis Lang says:

    I’m with JP above. And here’s an adventurous notion: TSRC adopts a new model along the lines of Jay Rosen’s Assignment Zero. Citizen journalists offering insight on culture, sport, art, film, government,philosophy– a pooling of intelligence where the audience becomes the “truth seekers” and the TSRC “staff” the editors and commentators. Rosen termed it pro-am journalism. Strikes me an original approach (very hard to forge) of some sort necessary to distinguish the blog from 110 million others, 99% of which totally obscure. Hey, we raid the journalism,communications, philosophy, art, psychology departments of local universities for bright young contributors — a forum for ideas. Soon, video and audio casts, live-stream and on-demand follow. What do you think?

  10. Kelly Groehler says:

    Wow. Someone tell Mommy and Grandma to either stand behind their anonymous criticisms, or go sit in time out. I’ll buy a round for the rest of you.

  11. Dave Jackson says:

    I’m a little late to the party here, but my question is: What do YOU want it to be? There are millions of blogs on the Internet, and I choose to seek certain ones out for two reasons: 1) They are written by people I know and whose opinions I value, as is the case here; and/or 2) They are written by people whose writing style and opinions engage me, in such a way that I want to check them at least a few times a week to see what they’re saying and thinking.

    Don’t try to be all things to all people. That’s not the point of a blog. A blog is personal, and I believe the best blogs are written by those who would write them regardless of the number of readers.

    One of the things that has made this blog effective is the number of repeat comments by people who don’t agree with your points of view. In blogging, we don’t need to worry about pissing off advertisers who might pull their funding. Those who don’t agree with our point of view ultimately become just as important to us as those who do.

    DJ

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