As anyone who has met me in person or online knows, politics and news about politics pretty much dominates my online activities. I’ve been a political activist most of my life having got started at a fairly young age with an incident involving a PTO meeting, a pop song and a complete misunderstanding of lyrics by parents that I felt strongly should be explained. For more on that story, visit my fellow FireDogLake commenter Miss Fiddyment’s site.
One of the daily resources I use to keep up to date on political news is Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire website. Every morning the first thing I check in my email inbox is the daily digest sent out in the wee hours of the morning by PW that is a compilation of stories Goddard is tracking on his blog. This is a valuable way to cut down the time I spend reading through the feed reader by getting my hands on the top headlines happening in the political world via a single email so when I opened today’s email and saw this item posted I felt compelled to take part.
Now, to be honest, this is a selfish post for both Taegan Goddard and myself. We both get something out of the deal. The 5 or so people who read my blog get a chance to find out “what does Joh do when he wakes up, what is he reading?” and Goddard gets to have my blog post about his site along with the dozens of other sites that will link to him today, giving him an impressive one day traffic boost which never hurts the Google ranking and hit counter. I usually avoid this sort of thing, but he is asking for advice from bloggers, I like his site, plus he asked nicely and hey – I wouldn’t mind a link to this place from him and the shot at $100 to spend at Amazon on the kind of useless crap I buy from there.
So on to the advice portion of the post since he asked for some. My first thought on this is that his site does a fantastic job on the information side of things. He always seems to have a great handle on the actually important stories of the day, so I can’t really knock him for this. There are a few things about his site that if I were running it I would probably resolve to work on, first of which is a noticeable lack of images that appear with his postings.
Now I understand the sparse, info-is-king approach that Goddard takes is one of the key features of his site, but I’m not saying he needs to turn into Flickr and become a photo sharing site or anything. All I am saying is it might be nice to include a post every day with a new photo of the day or image roundup that posts a few photos from the campaign trail. There is always a campaign going on somewhere every day that generates an image he could feature that would be an enhancement to his posts.
Second, his site tends to be more of a one way flow of information kind of site. I have found that sites such as this tend to get hamstrung slightly and lose out on the benefits of a strong comment section culture where all the people who read his site can gather, trade comments, praise him, bitch and moan about him, whatever. It may be a design issue that prevents this, it may be the tone of his posts or something else entirely that prevents a strong comment culture from forming, but if he were to make a commenting culture take root on his site I think it might benefit him and his readers since I am fairly certain he has a bipartisan readership and not enough sites can do what he does and maintain that bipartisanship.
Third, I would also like to see more video and audio used on the site. There are numerous video and audio items generated for political Blogtopia daily, he ought to aggregate the best of those and include some podcasts and vlog posts in his roundup every morning. This works hand in hand with the image issue I raised earlier. Rich media is a great way to punch up the impact of a site and doing what he does with PW is hard to do and keep things interesting on its own, having pretty pictures that move and things to listen to while reading the rest of his site would only be a bonus for his readers.
Well that’s it for me, I think those are the only issues I could offer advice on. I hope this review of your site helps you out a bit Taegan, I really enjoy your work and I hope you will keep at it for a long time to come. If you would like an experienced multimedia producer to work with you on punching up the multimedia on your site, send me an email or give me a call at the number over there on the right in the contact me section. Good luck with everything and I hope this advice helps in some way to improve an already great site.