I've mentioned a few times of late that we're soon going to be launching a new website that will be an adjunct or companion site to Talking Points Memo. One of the main features of the site will be a new group blog, which we're very excited about. It will feature some voices you're likely familiar with, and others you've either never heard before or at least have never read in a blog format. It will likely have a few more than a dozen authors -- a mix of writers and politicos, at least a couple of whom you will have seen as guest bloggers at TPM.
In addition to that, however, the site will also be a forum for TPM readers to discuss and debate the issues raised on TPM as well as to raise and hash out questions we're not discussing, but that you think we should be.
Another reason for launching the site is something that only became clear to me in the last six months or so. And that is, the way that blogs can facilitate what amounts to a sort of distributed or open-source journalism. Perhaps, you might even call it open-source muck-raking.
I began to sense the possibilities of this during the whole Sinclair Broadcasting debacle last fall, again with the 'DeLay Rule', and then on a larger scale with President Bush's jihad against Social Security. When people guest-blog on TPM, they never fail to be amazed at just how much quality information comes in from readers. And in this case, I don't just mean solid thinking and analysis, but concrete factual data.
It would have been impossible for me, for instance, to have written most of what I've written on Social Security over the last few months if I didn't have literally thousands of people reading their local papers and letting me know what they're seeing or reporting back from townhall meetings or giving me the heads up on things that are about to break on the hill. That's not a replacement for journalism; it's different. But it's potentially very powerful.
We want this site to facilitate more of that sort of joint endeavor, bringing together readers with an interest in a particular issue, pooling all the information they're able to collect and bringing it together in one place. (The Bankruptcy Blog we recently set up at TPM was one limited effort to do that. We sort of jumped ahead with our plan in that case because the need seemed so pressing.) And here's where we'd love your input.
There are many great discussion and community sites out there. In terms of discussion sites, some features of which we're going to be using and others we're not. We're eager to hear about features you like or don't like or, even more, things you wish other sites had, but don't. Even more, we'd love your input about the last issue I discussed, this distributed or open-source journalism. Many of you have been sending in tips for months, contacting representatives and senators, sending in news stories that aren't getting picked up in the national press. We're looking for ways to put you into with each other more directly, to facilitate that sort of exchange or activism on others issues beside Social Security.
Now, we have our own ideas about how to do this and we're incorporating those into the site as we design it. But we're very eager to get your input too. So drop us a line and let us know what you think.