RS 2009: Where should we go.

We’ve had an internal conversation among the contributors about RedState headed into 2009. I’m very interested in your thoughts. Below are my thoughts, edited from an email exchange:

  • We remain up front as a site that you must be pro-life to write on our front page.  That gives us credibility within the movement others lack.

  • Talk to most reporters, Hill staffers, etc. in D.C. and a pattern becomes clear: RedState has become one of those places that has the power to direct the conversation on side.

  • We remain the only right-of-center community online that caters more to the grassroots than the inside the beltway crowd.  And it is, more or less, a conversational community.

  • We are the most widely read right of center blog on Capitol Hill.

With those four factors comes a position to lead and influence the conversation, the candidates, etc.  So here’s where I want us to head:

  1.  A concerted focus on politics, candidates, and campaigns as they start brewing.  We do have enough room on the front page to really cover what is going on at the party level in states, look at up and coming candidates, and also target Democrats.  If we can’t do it all, we should really be encouraging new diarists to write about these issues.  People trust RedState to pick solid, viable candidates.  We were out front on Tom Rooney in FL-22 before most others.  We got behind Pete Olson in the primary.  We must maintain our integrity in dealing with candidates and politicians.

  2.  Building the media narrative against Obama and the Democrats.  We have a unique position to do this.  We have a number of people on the front page who are much more inclined to write about policy than day to day politics.  Those with this area of interest will be needed here.  We must build the case against Obama’s policies and agitate in favor of ours.  I know there has been some discussion about pushing this off the front page. Let me be very clear here: we cannot encourage people to back candidates or policies if we’re not going to talk about the policies those candidates support and the policies we are in favor of.  We must use the front page to motivate and activate our readers, but we must do so through education, both about the people and the policies.  Take a page from Blackhedd on this: he’s got readers who email me if he hasn’t posted in a few days to make sure he’s okay.  The education and explanation in his posts draw us an audience we’d otherwise not have.  Once they are at RedState, they get engaged throughout the site.  Same with Pejman and his overnight hits.  The site would not be the site but for knowing at sunrise there will be 3 to 7 Pejman posts.  And then there is a whole group of users who have improved their commenting skills at the site by watching Moe engage, poke, and needle.  The education and conversation are integral points to drive enough traffic for us to accomplish point 1.

  3.  Build the enemies list database.  We must attack the personalities inside the Obama administration and the way they conduct business.   We must document all the people, their connections, and their evils so that when the GOP does take back over at least one House of Congress we will have all the data for them to begin their meddlesome investigations into the Obama White House.  Just as importantly, we’re going to want to track money and people like Tim Gill as they start funding state legislative races for 2010.

  4.  Educate on Activism.  We ought to have a post a week or every other week on how to file an FOIA request, how to do an open records request in a state, where local GOP meetings are taking place, etc.  A calendar on the new site would be excellent to help accomplish some of these things.  Posts on campaign strategy, etc. would serve us well, even if it means we have to go outside the normal list of contributors to get something cooking.

  5.  Take point 4 and foster some independent, investigative news.  We should be uncovering dirt and encouraging our readers to do so.  We build traffic by reporting new information, not just pontificating.  There is news to be found out there.  And we need to free up our readers to explore in those areas, making sure they feel welcome even if they have only a limited interest in other things.

  6.  Take online offline and vice-versa.  This is the most important in my mind.  We have got to get our readers connecting offline and reporting back online.  We should provide the tools for online collaboration of offline activities.  If I had to prioritize everything all of us have said we want with the coming site revision, our number one project should be this: a tool whereby we can connect our users in each state with each other.  This also means we ought to encourage some offline activities among readers.  At the same time, we need to work with local groups to push them toward RedState.  It’s not just enough to have state by state collaboration.  We need to also work toward issue by issue collaboration.  Over all of this must come the idea of engaging our readers and letting there be some organic growth within RedState.  We’re going to have the ability to let multiple readers co-write a single RedState blog, we might as well let them. Free up our readers to do great things through the site — let us be the hub and facilitator, then get the hell out of the way and let our readers have fun together.

  7. An army of activists. We’re going to have to grow our army of activists. We’ll use the email blasts. We’ll start doing SMS messaging. We’ll integrate tools to contact Congress, etc. But we also need to find our kickass technologists who know PHP and can help Neil build awesome tools for collaboration, etc. The platform we’re shifting to will be very flexible and expandable. We’ve got to figure out who the users are who are able to and willing to volunteer time to build the site as a central hub or clearinghouse for the right online.

We have a variety of posters with a variety of skill sets, knowledge bases, interests, and time.  In 2009, we must work better to harness all of those to remain the influence leader we’ve become and be the place where right-of-center activists come to get educated on the issues, motivated by the topics, and activated for or against particular causes and candidates.