On the record: Talk to the Dome

Ryan Beckwith, master of ceremonies at Under the Dome, wants to hear from folks at BlueNC about your experiences here. I've invited him to use this thread to ask his questions, and to get your answers. His first question:

How would you describe BlueNC to a friend?


A Complaint

Some of the bloggers here put as much work into their posts as you do into your stories, and are as serious about getting their sources right as you are. Betsy Muse and Greg Flynn come immediately to mind. You can trust the work they do to be accurate and every source to be checked down to finest detail.

They and others do TOO good of a job with their blogs. They set the standard so high that it is hard to come close. I've pondered many a topic to start and have even started typing some, but doing even half the job they do requires hours of work. It is getting hard enough to just keep caught up with the "track changes" page, much less starting a BlueNC-worthy blog topic...

I'm here for you.

I go out of my way to try and lower that bar back to "blogger" status. I make keeping up with the Joneses much more easy!

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Counter complaint

I am not trying to take away from any participant's prowess at the keyboard when I say that I see comparatively little that resembles journalism on this blog.

And, of course, that's not what I'm looking for when I come to this one. That is, I expect RTB to be a journalist and for his blog to reflect that. Same with Laura Leslie. This one? No, this isn't journalism. This is lots and lots of opinion, occasionally a well written essay, sometimes some nonsense (ok, there's often nonsense), sometimes hot new information, sometimes rumors, and often just coffee-houes conversation.

It goes without saying, but I do want to say it anyway, that what makes this blog better than a lot of its type is the vigilance of its hosts: James, Betsy, Robert P., Greg (and those I've forgotten) when it comes to quality control, flaming temperance (i.e. scolding), and technical support.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

It's actually been quite some time since we've had something

resembling journalism, to be honest. It's been flying so fast and furious that it's difficult to keep up, let alone set aside time to actually write.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

your kinda right about journalists

they have to write stories.

To often the stories are biased in a direction. That is not journalism.

When folks can label a news organization as liberal or conservative, that news organization failed to be objective. They are a tabloid and the writers are just hack novelette writers.

One has to read two stories of the same political event to get what really happened, then you can make an objective assessment of the event.

Only problem with this is most people do not have the time to read two different articles of the same event. For one thing, many of the events are not covered with any kind of objectivity by the other side. Two, the same side is soooooo sugar coating the event.

Where is objective news writing.....Yes, I know, if you write objectively, no one would read it and to much of the masses do not have a clue what they are reading anyways. They want to be spoon fed.

Hell, most will not read past the headlines anyways, if they can even do that. Bitter, bitter, bitter. I know.

But wait, what is happening with spears and hilton, NOW thats news.....stupid freaking people.


but I know what you mean. I have something I've been working on for two weeks. More tables and maps and...well...you'll see....I want to get it right, so it's taking forever.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

If I had to sum it up in one word,

What role do you see BlueNC playing the political process?

I would choose "access" to describe our role.

Candidates have access to the forum to promote themselves and their ideals; normal, every-day citizens have access to those candidates through the forum; readers have access to a (sometimes) unique interpretation of political news and how it may impact their future, etc.

The exchange of ideas is often hindered by a lack of access, and I can only assume that providing a remedy for that is one of the steps toward better government.

Are you political advocates? Parajournalists? Party organizers? Or are you more like an interest group?

I think you'd find elements of all of the above, except...I haven't jumped out of airplanes in several years, and I'm not really sure if that's the best way to get a story. I mean, I'll do it, but if I have to dodge power lines, asphalt, ponds or trees, there better be a damned good story waiting. :)

Ryan, BlueNC is an information hub

We provide research, news and information you can't find in the traditional media. We have found that many of our community members are Democratic activists who aren't attached to a single cause. We are looking for issues and candidates to support. At BlueNC those issues and candidates sometimes find us first.

We are advocates, journalists and organizers, but I don't think of BlueNC as an interest group. I want the Democratic Party and our candidates to listen to us, but I'm not sure I want to bend them to our will.

Greg is amazing at research and has put together very impressive posts and information campaigns. I enjoy research as well. My degree is in journalism and I like to think that on my more thoughtful, fully researched pieces I have taken a professional approach. I think that's true of a lot of our community members. We don't have editors, researchers or anyone else on staff to check facts, spelling and grammar before we publish. After we publish, it's an entirely different story. We'll find out pretty quickly if we got something wrong.

I have no problems openly criticizing the Democratic Party or its leadership. I still don't think there is enough transparency. I happen to like Jerry Meek and I think he's done a lot for Democrats, but I also have my differences with him and I'm not shy about letting him know. I think most of us feel this way. Jerimee Richir works for the NCDP and in his off hours he has volunteered to help me with the technical issues at BlueNC that are over my head. Still, he does not get everything he writes placed on the front page and we aren't any easier on Democratic candidates, Jerry Meek or the NCDP because he is around. We're very sensitive about the fact that we are not part of the NCDP and we don't want any confusion there. Jerimee has to walk a fine line and he is wonderful at it. We all appreciate his help here.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thank you, Dear!

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Blogs as part of the politcal process

I think I am very fortunate that I get to work in politics all the time. Having worked in Iowa on Chris Dodd's campaign, then working in Reno, NV for their state party helping to organize their caucuses, and now here in Winston-Salem working for the Roy Carter for congress campaign.
I think we are learning in this cycle that the internet us a huge tool that is effecting the way we disseminate information, gain support on wedge issues, and raise money.
I really liked that comment above somewhere about BlueNC being a 'soapbox'. I think that's really a great analogy. Really that's what it is. Its a way for people's voices to get heard. There is no vetting process. You're allowed to just write, be corrected, get more information from the people that comment.
The people that post here, read and comment here are really great. I am impressed by the caliber of thought that comes in an out. The gentleman earlier who wrote about the bar being set too high had a point. I think its a bit scary to start, but once you do, I don't know that writing styles matter all that much.
I know I get better responses to personally invested blogs that I write than I do for the well crafted campaign blogs that I post.
I do both, because I am not just part of a political machine, I am a real guy who writes for the campaigns I believe in and once in awhile want to editorialize as myself.
I think the blogosphere has a tremendous impact on the way public opinion is being shaped, I hope it is able to elevate to also have a major role in how public policy is formed as well.

J. Levi Knapp

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.
William James (1842 - 1910)


BlueNC highlight reel

I mentioned some of the milestones of BlueNC on my blog post. But what would you say are the moments that stand out in the past two years?


Elizabeth Edwards was a big coup.

In fact, I think we were all a little star-struck at the time.

Getting Larry Kissell onto the netroots fundraising page was a big deal.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Elizabeth and Jerry

Jerry asking for suggestions on a challenger to Dole sticks in my mind.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

There are several that stand out

The entire Larry Kissell netroots campaign. We fought like crazy. Larry was initially left off of the Netroots fundraising page even though he had the most support on the nomination thread at MyDD. A day or so later Kos and the boys had a change of heart and added a few more candidates who had tremendous grassroots support. (I can provide links later if you need them.)

Not many people will remember this one, because we were only about 3 months old, but I wrote a piece about Elizabeth Dole and an NRSC fundraising scheme. It went viral on Kos, Eschaton/Atrios, MyDD and the traffic just about brought BlueNC to its knees. I don't remember us going down, but it was tiring keeping up with all the comments at the different sites.

The BlueNC Women getting together to tour Seagrove, buy pottery and meet with Rep. Brad Miller for lunch at the Jugtown Cafe in February 2007.

There are so many fun times, it's hard to list them all. heh

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

the No OLF

series sticks out in my mind as a milestone. Lots of great work by good people.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."


a sheepish hand wave and now ducks and hides.

Lots of folks worked on this...Loved that we got buses to come to Washington County!

The OLF grannies....love the ladies!

For those of us creating content for campaigns

BlueNC is invaluable-- invaluable -- in reaching an actively engaged, progressive voting audience.

The workshop function of this forum is not always played up; but especially early on in the primary season, BlueNC is an all-purpose proving grounds for nascent message and media campaigns.

What will work? What will people respond to? What will turn people off in terms of tone and content?

BlueNC is simply the best place in existence (as of press time) to gather that feedback.

Is it a bubble? Is it an echo-chamber? Is it unrepresentative of the whole of the democratic primary voting population? Probably. But I think we all factor that in when the time comes to make projections about the wider electoral actions of the state as a whole.

It's easy to forget that we're but a sliver of the population...but then the latest PPP tracking poll comes out and we're reminded that there are a lot of other people out there it would be wise for us blog nerds not to forget!

I call BlueNC...

North Carolina's state community blog. Isn't that grand!

Seriously, since my blog focuses on LGBT issues primarily on a national level, I come here to read about what's going on politically on other topics in my state so I can be well-informed. I post diaries here that I believe will be of interest to my fellow North Carolinians on issues that are relevant and on my radar that affect LGBT Tar Heels. It's a great forum.

The fact that so many elected officials and candidates at all levels of state and local government realize the value of coming here to write diaries and participate in liveblogs and debates is testimony of the emerging influence and importance of this online town hall.

I don't take any newspapers anymore -- I grab all of my news online these days.

Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend

Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend

my late, from-the-beach view

Blue NC is the place where I have learned almost all I know about NC politics. I came to NC in 96, but have lived a quiet,uninvolved life except for my son's activities. I read the N&O but did not subscribe, got the Chapel Hill News in the driveway for free, and grew angry about the Bush years. Around 2004 I found Daily Kos, and began to live there for news, opinions, and made friends, too. some year and 37 weeks ago(my page here tells me) I found BlueNC and started to learn more about the state issues in the way I learned from Daily Kos. I showed up at a fundraiser for Larry Kissell's first campaign at James' home and realized these were people I wanted to get to know more. Same with Jim Neal - I did nothing but vote to get someone in the Senate here, and now I volunteer. Live blogs have cut through the layers to bring people in real contact with candidates, to have a chance to ask questions about the issues that matter to me and my life. How it makes a difference is that I often tell my neighbors, son's teachers, etc. about things that I learn on the blogs. I have sent a little financial support to candidates outside my district(like Larry Kissell) and even out of state candidates I learned about on blogs.

I feel more personally invested in what happens than I did before - when I was so frustrated I was checking opportunities to teach English in China. It is pretty dismal when one's "safe country" is China.

I still study Chinese on weekends, but now think of ways to do political outreach to my Chinese friends who can vote.

BlueNC's relationship to other blogs

What is BlueNC's relationship to other blogs in North Carolina? At the national level?


That's a tough one.

Most of the other blogs that I read are NC blogs, or have NC authors, and I learned about them here. My favorites are Isaac Hunter's Tavern, Pam's House Blend, Capital Beat, and of course the Dome. I also enjoy the ones from our local news paper, The Pilot, especially Progressive Discussions, and Editor's Note.

But those are just the ones I read. As to our relationship to other blogs, it's probably a symbiotic one - we feed off of each other at times. If there is a diary/article of national interest, it's usually cross-posted at The Big Orange Satan, but I try to stay away from there. It's just too much of a time-destroyer for me.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Our relationship with other blogs changes each year/cycle

We don't have a blogroll and at different times we've made an effort to search out other NC blogs. I created a search feature through Google of NC blogs so when we are writing about a topic we could see what others in NC are saying about our topic, but nobody used it. We encourage bloggers to cross-post from their own sites so we can get to know other NC bloggers.

The national blogs have come in handy. They're a little tough now during primary season, but last cycle we helped Larry Kissell raise a lot of money through the national netroots. We are part of the 50 state blog network and our roundup on Fridays is posted at Open Left and MyDD. Jerome Armstrong at MyDD put out an offer to our front page writers for one of us to write on their front page until after the May primary. I was first to respond, so I got honors. My first piece will go up on Saturday.

In 2006 or early 2007 Chris Bowers said he thought the future of blogging would be on the state level. I think he's right. We won't get as big as the national blogs, but we can provide a similar blogging experience (only better?) on a smaller scale.

I would love to tell you more about the 50 state blog network. There are some great writers/bloggers/political nuts out there. I'm tired and I have to drive to the beach tomorrow, so I will have to tell you on Saturday.

Great questions, Ryan.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

BlueNC is the first place I come for NC Political news

This is where I start, but following the links provided in the articles or comments, I visit the other local blogs Linda noted.

BlueNC is not made up of paid consultants or policy makers, instead it is We The People. This is the place where I have learned more about politics than any civic class and been encouraged to make the difference I wanted to see.

This is not just a place for candidates to come and announce their campaign for office or for a legislator to come and have conversations with the people, it is much more important than that....BlueNC is The People's Think Tank!

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

There is no RedNC

This blog is a testament to the power of ideas in this wing of the Democratic party. Quite often, it's a great place to argue with people you agree wholeheartedly with; other folks who aren't afraid to float ideas, to appear wrong, to steel their opinions in the forge of debate.

The fact is, our conservative counterparts haven't developed a RedNC equivalent. There are conservative blogs, but truly, nothing like this.

I guess it's just easier to sit quietly and flip between Rush and "Focus on the Family".

I don't want to sound too harsh here, but

That's one reason he thinks there is no statewide conservative equivalent, since North Carolina's Republicans already get their fill at sites like Townhall, Redstate and Free Republic.

this doesn't represent a whole lot of "independent thinking" or a very deep concern for North Carolina-related issues. I'm trying not to broad-brush with that, but that was the first thing that crossed my mind when I read that.

Then again, voicing a (public) opinion on something important can be considered to meet the minimum requirements for being "radical", which many true conservatives have little taste for.

You also have to consider that when one group aspires to bring about change while another believes change will happen on its own (if it's really needed), that first group is going to be a lot more vocal than the second.

That's...the nice version. I'm keeping the more sinister version to myself (for now), because it's Friday, and I'm swimming with a school of endorphins today. :)

I'm not sure that's a logical assessment

unless Mr. Raupe is unaware of national progressive blogs like DailyKos, MyDD, Digby, etc. They were all around looong before blueNC and haven't stiffled the growth of state focused progressive blogs.

Also, one just cannot compare the fast free flowing open conversation that happens here at blueNC (and the national progressive blogs) with the tightly controlled conservative blogs like redstate, lgf, etc.

Then again ... I wonder how much the ability to read, think, analyze and type at an amazingly rapid rate has to do with the difference in participation. I don't mean to cast dispersions on others so much as to complement the front pagers and others who are very active and prolific here and on national progressive blogs.

Seriously ... it takes some extraordinary above average brain power to do this day in and day out AND hold down a regular job. ... which, come to think of it, is mostly why I go silent for periods of time. I can usually swing in quick to read easy enough, but when the stress or work level goes up in my 9-5, my bloggy self has to shut up so I can get done what needs doing here in the real world. I personally have definite intellectual limits that some folks here just do not have. So, maybe that's a factor elsewhere? I'm just sayin' ...

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

With this OLF fight

I wanted to go were people were talking and discussing issues. I wanted a state level platform, not a national.

I was/aim naive regarding politics and the behind the scenes stuff many of you guys do. However, James and Co. accepted my information and encouraged me to write.

I also went looking for a GOP site. What the heck, BlueNC is mainly for Blue minded folks? Yea, there be lurkers or indies out there. But the bloggers are by and large Dem. Figured I needed to contact the other side and what GOPer is going to agree to something found on BlueNC. So I wanted to find a red site that I could use to educate the rest of the folks.

The few GOP sites I found were just posting by the author and NO responses. Could not get a response. I doubt that if you wrote anything negative about any rebub, no one would write a comment about it.

What I got out of those sites was the GOP feeds information and people just regurgitate it. They hit the "I believe" button and go on with life.

I like posting at BlueNC because people read AND make comments. Sometimes it goes contrary to what you thought. This enables rethinking and or refining or even redefining your intentions. At the red sites. No feed back... I did not put any time into those sites. They are stagnant.

Me, too Parmea

I like posting at BlueNC because people read AND make comments. Sometimes it goes contrary to what you thought. This enables rethinking and or refining or even redefining your intentions

I have learned so much about myself from reading what other people think.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

The front-pagers

James said there are seven people with front-page blogs. Could you guys tell me who you are and what you do in real life? Shoot me an e-mail at rbeckwit@newsobserver.com with a phone number where I can call you today.



The first post

Can someone help me find the first post on BlueNC?


This may be forever lost in the mists of time

Though you might try the wayback machine. We started out on the MovableType blogging platform, and it took us a few months to figure out that BlueNC would need to be much more than a traditional blog. The search for community tools and extensibility led us to drupal, and the original site was scrapped when we moved. We did move some older posts over manually, but not all of them, and probably not the first one (which I imagine was probably something like "Hi! This is BlueNC!").

Here's the oldest post on this system: http://bluenc.com/the-new-bluenc-is-coming-soon

This can also be accessed at http://bluenc.com/node/48. (Drupal installs between 40 and 50 "nodes" containing help and documentation files, so our content starts at 48.) By auto-incrementing that number, it will be possible to walk forward through those older posts that remain. If a node doesn't exist (like /node/46 doesn't), you'll just find yourself on the home page.

groovy geek speak Lance.

I love it.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

The Wayback Machine Comes Through


That's a snapshot of BlueNC in the week before we moved from MovableType to Drupal. Note the meandering lazy tone the posts (or my posts, anyway — I read those through before posting here to make sure I hadn't called Ryan Beckwith any names in them). Clearly, I (for one) had only a loose grasp on what BlueNC was good for. Thankfully, others were not so benighted.

If You Shut BlueNC Down For Good,

Give me a few minutes' notice, will you? I'll want to copy this thread and paste it into my scrapbook.

I had a call from Ryan with a few questions today, which prompted me to stop by. Every time I'm here I'm impressed at the growth — both in terms of the number of new users alongside the old, and the scope of the work going on here. It really is an honor to have had a chance to participate in this community, and I'll just go ahead and admit to being really proud of BlueNC.

Ryan, thanks for kicking off this one-page summary of the site and the community, and thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread!

Blue NC was a place for me and others to post research about

Charles Taylor (and others) that literally wasn't available in the congressional district.

The Raleigh and Charlotte papers wrote stories about his Russian bank and questionable ethics. The NY Times wrote about him letting GE employees write legislation (while sitting in his office) that would affect court-ordered dioxin clean-up in the Hudson river. But those stories and others were archived. You had to search for it paper by paper and then pay for it. But I could post it here with links and blockquotes and anyone in the 11th district could read what the local papers wouldn't print.

With so many blogs reporting independently, newspapers can no longer ignore this kind of thing so easily (but they still try. And it certainly was the norm in 2004 in the 10th and 11th districts when I started blogging here. My account info says I've been a member for one year and 52 weeks . . . so much has happened in two years! What a ride . . . This place is an information resource, an on-going event, and a community.

Thanks, Lance, James and Targater.
See Pat Go Bye Bye. Support Daniel Johnson.

Story runs Monday

Thanks for all of your insight. This was an interesting experiment in new media journalism.

Feel free to add any more thoughts or comments to this thread.

The story runs Monday in the N&O.


Thanks to you too

I had a good conversation with my j-school professor wife about your work on this story. She considered it a real innovation in reporting. I do too.

I'm sure we'll have PLENTY more to say about all this tomorrow after we see ourselves and our site through your eyes.


Photographic evidence...

Ryan Teague Beckwith

Ryan Beckwith live-blogs the Young Democrats Convention, 3/29/2008.

Great photo

really great.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

You've got some real talent.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Great shot, Frank.

It's almost a marriage of two eras. You've got the starkness of film noir with the drab tones and pool of lamplight (light struggling against the overpowering darkness), and then the little Apple led icon brings you back to 21st Century technology.


Really. Very nice.