Thursday, December 08, 2005
LOCAL: Lowell, Mass., political blogger organizes get-together
By Bill Densmore, Editor
The Media Giraffe Project
Up to 30 progressive/left bloggers in Massachusetts are gathering on Saturday at an independent bookstore in the state's No. 2-size city of Worcester to trade notes about their online political passions -- and listen to politicians.
The themes of the one-day event Dec. 10, 2005 -- analysis and activism.
The organizer of "blogLeft Massachusetts" is Lynn Lupien, (firstname.lastname@example.org 978-446-9119) a Lowell, Mass., based web and graphic designer. "I really believe in democracy and discussion," she says. "I kind of jumped in here because nobody was blogging about the things that I cared about." She blogs at http://www.leftinlowell.com.
"It's going to be fun to meet all these people I have been reading for months," she says. "And a lot of other people thought so, too."
One surprise Lupien found -- as word got out of the gathering of bloggers, she found that several candidates for state political office wanted to come too and present their stories. "I debated whether to allow it and decided finally why not." She says some of the politicians are bloggers themselves. "There are actually quite a few people on the candidate side who have experience in the blogging community," she says. "There is a little bit of a jumping on the bandwagon thing."
Lupien says her own website in Lowell covers the city council of the 110,000-population Lowell -- and she's frustrating about an appointed city manager who operates like an elected mayor. She's frustrated about the lack of good candidates. "I take notes at the meetings, and fix them up a bit and post them, sometimes with my snide little comments -- and people find them useful." She thinks it's important to create a record of civic action. "I like blogging on national issues but it doesn't tend to get the kind of comments that blogging locally does."
"These are the kinds of things people are supposed to talk about around their kitchen tables except they don't anymore," she says. She describes her blog as "more like an editorial page than a newspaper." She reports facts all the time she says, "but there are facts and then there is your underyling philosophy of how things should be. But I do try as much as possible not to adjust facts to fit my view of the story."
Lupien, 30, grew up near Manchester, N.H., and has a English degree with a speciality in poetry from the University of New Hampshire. After college she did administrative work for financial-service companies ("I hate cubicles") and then took courses in web design and started her own business.
She says about 100 to 200 unique hits were coming to her website when she started it in May and that is now up to 300 or 400 unique hits per day. She uses the WordPress blogging software on a webserver she hosts herself.
Could local news community blogging every turn into a business? Lupien isn't sure. "But I don't want to do it for a living," she says. "It would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath." She says she may start selling web advertising if she gets enough "eyesballs" viewing her site. Lupien says she can't cover everything herself and is thinking about trying to recruit community groups and individuals to launch their own blogs.
She says the Lowell Sun, the city's only daily newspaper, is politically conservative. "They don't really get into the meat of a story," Lupien says. "They, like most media at this point, like a story to be simple and easy to explain and they are very connected to some of the powerful people in the city." The paper is owned by Denver, Colo.-based Media News Group Inc.