Steve G.

Why Libertarian candidates don’t get the attention they want

In Libertarian on June 18, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Brian Miller wrote a piece earlier on whether the Libertarian Party is a real political party. My question in return is whether the Libertarian campaigns are real campaigns.

For example, in the course of that article, he covered an aspect of the Munger campaign.

We claim to be passionate for liberty — yet when one of the LP’s strongest candidates in North Carolina is being unfairly excluded from public debates that were set up for the benefit of the old party candidates, the same legion of folks who have hours to comment on LP blogs couldn’t muster more than two dozen e-mails between them to challenge this state of affairs.

Brian was referencing a post on Steve Newton’s blog, which stated

What is both surprising and appalling, however, is the fact that the Libertarian blogosphere has virtually blacked out Dr Munger’s campaign as well.

I would posit that it is neither surprising nor appalling that Munger got little coverage in the Libertarian blogosphere, since his campaign and supporters apparently made little to no effort to send out press releases, or otherwise inform bloggers about the issues with his campaign. I covered the ballot access lawsuit involving Munger only because I saw an AP article on it, but as far as I was aware, there was no other issue to cover. In fact, until today I was completely unaware that Munger had wanted a letter-writing campaign, or that he had been left out of the polls when he was an obvious spoiler.

I get “as-it-happens” comprehensive Google Alerts for the keyword “libertarian”; on the average day, I get 25-50 alerts, most with multiple entries, on the word appearing in all manner of media, from blogs to press releases to videos. I review every single one of them, to see if there is something which needs to be covered on LFV. I also subscribe to RSS feeds for multiple libertarian and third party blogs. (While I occasionally read Steve Newton’s blog, it is not in my subscriptions because it is a personal blog in addition to being a libertarian blog.) I spend hours each day, going over all the information I have received through the automatic notification system I have set up for libertarian issues. I do this for one reason, and one reason only: to gather information of interest for readers of Last Free Voice.

The campaigns’ job, if they want to make sure they will be covered on LFV or any other blog, is to provide bloggers with the information they want covered. If campaigns do not provide me with said information, they have no justifiable reason to complain, and they can blame no one but themselves if LFV doesn’t cover it. After all, I am not a mind-reader, and no one can reasonably expect me to follow every single state or local libertarian campaign, in addition to all the research I already do every day to try to make sure our readers are informed. I do have the right to a life outside LFV, after all.

Campaigns can contact me easily, since my dedicated email address is located on the front page of this blog. Just to be clear, it is on the right-hand column, third item down, “Have A Hot Tip?”, and my dedicated email address for LFV tips is enm.lastfreevoice@gmail.com; in fact, I have made it a point to tell readers to save my LFV email address in their contacts, in case they need to contact me.

Many people send me articles or information they want posted on LFV. Many are campaigns and/or activists, while others are not. I am extremely easy to get along with, as I think every single one of those people would attest. In the last few days alone, I have posted press releases for a wide range of candidates and issues, including Steve Kubby’s development of a new medical marijuana pill, Jason Gatties’ birthday campaign fundraiser (happy birthday, Jason!), and Robert Milnes’ announcement that he is seeking the Green Party nomination. In fact, those last two items were posted today alone.

All anyone has to do, in order to get coverage for their Libertarian campaign or candidate on LFV, is to send me the information or press release. Had the Munger campaign (or one of its supporters) wanted LFV coverage for a letter-writing campaign, or anything else, all they had to do was send me what they wanted posted, and it would have been posted as soon as I received it.

My viewpoint is therefore that Libertarian candidates, campaigns, and their supporters need to do a better job of getting out their message, as opposed to expecting coverage to come to them, then complaining and hurling insults when they don’t get the coverage they desire. Candidates, campaigns, and their supporters cannot just assume that I (or any other blogger) will know about any particular campaign issue; instead they must be proactive, and take it upon themselves to make sure bloggers get that information. Email is free, so all it would cost them to get the word out is a few minutes of their time. Apparently it wasn’t very important to the campaign or any of its supporters, if they weren’t willing to expend those few minutes to inform the bloggers of the situation. It is therefore more than a little disingenuous for them to now blame the bloggers for their own failure.

  1. Question if I may. I’m not sure how Google Alerts work, but I think I have an idea. Here’s the question. If the LPUS puts out a news release and a paper picks it up will Google Alerts then do the same? And if the paper does not pick it up does that tell us anything about LPUS news releases, or whether they are being picked up? I hope this makes a bit of sense.

    Thanks,
    MHW

  2. No one seems to know exactly how Google Alerts work, and Google isn’t talking.

    Google Alerts picks up a lot of things not picked up by newspapers, as well as things picked up by newspapers; but the alerts tell you exactly where their bot picked them up.

    I think that answers your question, but I’m not sure that it does.

  3. Well we’re workin’ on it.🙂

    MHW

  4. The campaigns’ job, if they want to make sure they will be covered on LFV or any other blog, is to provide bloggers with the information they want covered.

    I can’t speak for the Munger campaign, but from observing them a bit more closely than you have had the opportunity to, I suspect their focus isn’t so much on movement blogs but on getting _North Carolina media coverage_.

  5. Of course.

    I think Brian and ENM spoke a bit past each other on this one.

    Brian’s point was that libertarians spend too much time commenting and shooting ideas back and forth on blogs and email lists, as opposed to concrete things that have an effect in the real world, and he used the example of writing the newspapers, debate commissions, etc., on behalf of Dr. Munger. (By the way his critique is on the money, and I plead guilty).

    Since he referred to blogs, on ENM’s blog, she took it as kind of a shot at her, and pointed out that if the Munger campaign had made her aware that it was looking for people to write such letters on their behalf, she might have done it and/or passed on the notice to others.

    Both are correct.

  6. I am not at all angry, though I will admit to a certain level of annoyance at having to defend LFV against such facially ridiculous accusations. I would not have felt compelled to do that at all, had Newton’s accusations not made it onto LFV’s main page.

    It may well be that Munger was looking specifically for North Carolina media coverage, and in fact that makes sense. However, Steve Newton’s blog specifically named LFV as a libertarian blog which horribly failed the Munger campaign. I could not in good conscience allow that misinformation to stand.

    That being said, I am mostly just explaining how we gather information, and how campaigns can go about getting coverage on LFV, since there seems to be some serious confusion on those topics which led to the current accusations.

  7. Speaking as one of the bloggers quoted in the post above: first, I wasn’t taking a shot at LFV in particular, just noting a pattern. And the pattern is this: most libertarian blogs that I read seem to try to fulfill a number of purposes:

    1) Express the philosophies of the bloggers in commentary and analysis
    2) perform a “social” function within the LP–including rumors, “inside news”, etc.
    3) Cover the LP Prez candidate/race in some form or another (pos or neg on Barr, it depends)
    4) Serve as a sort of “listserv” or “bulletin board” for candidates running for office

    ENM makes a valid point about candidates needing to be pro-active about sending out press releases, but Libertarian campaigns are inevitably run on a shoestring of time and people, as well as money. In many ways they are imperfect labors of love, by people with varying degrees of savvy in terms of PR.

    (I grow increasingly frustrated, for example, with Allen Buckley’s prolonged failure to update his website.)

    What I am arguing, however, is that in terms of building popular support for our candidates and our presence in the arena, interested bloggers need to pursue a different strategy.

    I picked several libertarian candidates across the country to focus my attention on, measured by my own rather peculiar standards. I was looking for people seriously running campaigns, people who had a chance with those campaigns to have a real impact on the political scene in their area, and people whose campaigns should have national significance to libertarians.

    I think that, among others, Michael Munger, Allen Buckley, and even Stan Jones make this list (yours could be different).

    What I do with those candidates is actually take it upon myself to keep up with their campaigns and almost work as a volunteer out-of-state press agent. I check their websites, write to them directly to ask for news, and even take action.

    The push for Dr Munger’s inclusion in the NC Bar Association debate that we started at Delaware Libertarian has played a role in actually getting the NCBA to make public responses that have been useful to Munger and the LPNC in the local media.

    I disagree that this information is that hard to find; in Munger’s case I visit his two blogs on a daily basis, and if I see something interesting I inquire–and then I make it a point to tell my readers about it.

    My point is simply this: our candidates always have way too few resources. The libertarian blogosphere represents a potential addition advantage for those candidates, and I think we owe it to them (for getting out there and running) and to ourselves (every vote they get and every mind they enlighten helps our cause) to be more pro-active than we have been–as a group–in the past.

  8. Hi Steve N.,

    ENM can overrule me if she wants, but I’d like to invite you to cross-post your blog posts here.

    Can’t remember if your blog is wordpress or not. If you do not have a wordpress account, take a minute or so to set one up, and we can send you an invite.

    If you are interested, and pending ENM’s approval of course.

  9. Steve is more than welcome to post on LFV. When I invited Steve Perkins, when he was posting excellent comments here from the convention, I was initially confused and thought he was Steve Newton (as Steve Perkins probably remembers, LOL).

    I am not angry with anyone, as I stated. I was a bit annoyed yesterday evening, but I’m not even annoyed anymore. I just wanted to explain how things work on a blog like LFV, so that in the future, everyone would understand how to go about getting LFV attention for their campaigns. Apparently out of all the blogs I monitor, none of them are interested in any of those races. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t important races, it just means that they aren’t being covered the way they should be, but blogs won’t cover them unless they are brought to their attention and it is explained why they are important races.

    If Steve wants to be a PR guy for them, I think that’s wonderful, and LFV is a good place to do that since we get thousands of hits per day.

    So if you are interested, Steve, send me an email to enm.lastfreevoice.gmail.com.

  10. Paulie hit my point on the head. I wasn’t commenting on LFV at all, rather at the futility of running a serious campaign for office when the Libertarian Party won’t give even a minimal level of campaign support to its candidates when compared to the other national parties.

    I also plead guilty to the phenomenon of spending too much time commenting on lists, etc. One reason I commented on it was because I realized I waste a lot of valuable time that way. It’s as much a mea culpa as it is a declaration of “hey, we’re in trouble here.”

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