As usual, Wolverine asks a question which neatly distills what many have been going on about with regard to our blog-friend, the notorious Loudoun Insider.
(We also acknowledge the righteousness of the lighthearted boy-genius Lloyd the Idiot over at TC, and while we would not relegate Lloyd to the role of jester, we frankly are not sure what to do with him, so we will just say this blog post is about LI and leave it at that.)
Without taking a firm stand on whether LI is good or evil – I suspect that, like most of the human species, he contains a bit of both – I don’t find his actions strange at all, in that they seem simply to be those of someone with an opinion who likes to speak out. His posts much of the time happen to focus on Republicans, and are often critical, although his posts about Democrats over the past couple years have almost always been critical.
If a person leaves the Loudoun County Republican Committee, does that person forfeit the right to express an opinion about Republicans publicly? Obviously, no.
To me what is interesting and further evidenced in Jacob’s post here is LI’s persistent gravitational pull after he has reminded us numerous times he is no longer a member of the LCRC and has not been for a long time. For someone not on the committee, not running for office, and not a campaign worker, he pops up as the topic of an awful lot of the local political conversation both online and out in the world. And not benign conversation either, as a rule. An outside observer might well ask: What the hell is that all about?
The answer which I think is obvious is he is a popular commentator at one of the few information outlets in any medium focused on Loudoun County politics and government. Viewing him in that light rather than as some sort of looming death star, I believe the animosity he generates is disproportionate – although because of the scarcity of entertaining news coverage here in Loudoun it makes perfect sense that he remains such a key influencer.
This is one of the rare cases I would endeavor to correct the Wolve-meister, but I think the question reveals an affliction by the same skewed perspective affecting so many local Republicans.
Regardless of what one thinks of his opinions, it is objective fact that LI is one of the only writers who deals with local political and governmental issues with a consistently interesting voice, and he is by far the most prolific.
The world of blogs – much more than any other journalistic or quasi-journalistic medium – is the purest of meritocracies. No one pays for one blog over the other. None has an advantage in accessibility such as the days when certain newspapers landed in the driveway. They are all, the 70 million of them, equally available to every single user at every single moment, limited only by the purely voluntary effort that user decides to expend with her fingers on a control while staring at a screen. If your concept and writing style do not draw her in, she skips right past, certainly does not stop to comment, and may rarely come back. The very few blogs with any first-to-market advantage also get to become communities, but in most cases the life span is only as long as the front page material merits reading. The blogger whose writings people give a fig about is the one who gets the traffic.
If you scan the landscape for people who can write an occasional interesting blog post – and by that I mean of interest to the aforementioned free Web surfer seeking entertainment, edification or diversion – there are plenty of us. If you survey for bloggers who can regurgitate other people’s work, content from the mass media, or the conventional wisdom, they are like the sands of the sea.
But of those who are consistently interesting – which does mean original – and productive enough that the Web surfer feels it necessary to visit that blog regularly, perhaps more than once daily, there are very few. Here in Loudoun, I would estimate there is approximately: one.
Regarding the overall blog experience, don’t get me wrong: I think the community here at NVTH is second to none, and throughout Northern Virginia there is a great network of blog writers and commenters who make a number of blogs required visits for many of us, and deservedly so. If it weren’t for the creative outlet blogs provide we’d all have to focus our energy in other directions and who knows what might come of it – robotic Sasquatch with laser eyes, or perhaps world peace.
For repeat visits and sheer traffic, however, nothing is more important than front page content, and in this county Loudoun Insider is pretty much the only one providing what he provides: frequent, informative, entertaining writing.
He turns people off and makes them vow to stay away. He has them regularly clucking about the indignities he’s brought upon them. Within almost any circle of LCRC people, to say something positive about LI is to garner countless invisible ice picks in one’s ears. But all of this simply proves my point, which is much more a market observation than a value judgement and certainly not a political statement: Until more people step up and begin providing interesting stuff to read about Loudoun County in a consistent manner, LI will remain a great big blip on everyone’s radar.
You may look to other bloggers for salvation, but so far every single one of them lacks the wit and will to supplant the throne. You may surf over to those in the local press who actually get paid to write, but they will leave you tragically unfulfilled. You may cringe at the sound of his name and wonder in the deepest recesses of consciousness why he haunts you so, but you will find no relief because reality, in the end, is a firm, fixed object.
Resistance is futile.