It’s occurred to me on occasion that blogging may encourage the already strongly critical side of my nature, and one of my ambitions this year is to find the time to write more positively about the world. With the change in the Presidency that should be a bit easier, though I’m not making any promises about the Montana Legislature.
I thought a nice way to start would be to point out some of the highlights of what is happening in Montana blogs. This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the great things happening in Montana’s blogs, but an unordered sampling of some of the bright spots of 2008:
- Political figures started to take the blogs much more seriously this year, leading to discussions and interviews that were much more in-depth than the traditional media has chosen to provide. Montana blogs provided in-depth interviews with candidates for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, the PSC, and the Legislature. Both liberal and conservative blogs should be commended for this effort, and I certainly hope to see that trend continue.
- 4&20 blackbirds has long been one of the best blogs in Montana, but I think it has emerged as a model of a community blog site, exploring Missoula and generating some fascinating discussions about everything from Hooters to the role of local newspapers in a community. It’s got a great collection of writers and commenters, making it a must-stop destination every evening.
- Gregg’s Smith’s exhaustive, incredible work investigating the City of Great Falls and its foray into power production is a model of how citizen journalism can work to hold governments accountable. It’s an impressive example of what blogs can become in an era of reduced journalistic oversight.
- The inexhaustible energy of Jay Stevens both inspires wonder and invites envy. Whether it is “Links” posts that must take hours to compile or a series of posts that most of us would take weeks to put together, Jay keeps the progressive blogs in Montana alive and kicking when the rest of us hit dry spots.
- The community that has emerged at Left in the West in its diaries has proven itself to be another great spot for discussion with a lot less vitriol than other forums seem to generate.
- David Crisp’s writing about the experience of producing an independent paper in a market dominated by Lee Enterprises shows how traditional journalism and blogging can work together. Dave’s not only a great writer, but he does an excellent job discussing what it takes to keep an independent newspaper alive.
- The emergence of really effective RSS readers like Google Reader and Bloglines. They not only allow a quick read of the day’s posts, they help avoid the temptation to jump in and comment in places where I know I shouldn’t, though I don’t always succeed.
Thanks to all of the Montana bloggers for providing a year of interesting and occasionally inflammatory discourse.