Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Neiwert Awards for 2006

It's been a little slow coming together this year, but the Northwest Progressive Institute has finally announced the winners of the 2006 David Neiwert Awards. (For an explanation of the awards, and a list of last year's winners, see here.)

Here's the entire rundown from NPI:

Since virtually all of the outstanding 2005 honorees continued to toil away last year without pause, we'd like to take the opportunity to recognize alumni for their accomplishments before presenting the 2006 recipients.

Michael Hood (Best Monitoring of Right Wing Media, 2005) has continued his impressive work at blatherWatch, chronicling the latest developments in talk radio both locally and nationally tirelessly throughout the year, whether that was sharing amazing tales of Mike Webb's legal troubles, critiquing the KTTH morning guys, or covering the memorable Eyman/Carlson feud from last summer and the Sims/Hutcherson debate comparing the civil rights movements of blacks and gays. Those of us who don't have the time nor the patience to follow conservative talk radio remain especially appreciative of his valuable work.

General J.C. Christian, Patriot (Best Humor/Satire, 2005) [of Jesus' General] has kept the snarky letters, storyboards, and graphics coming, much to the delight of progressive readers both inside and outside of the region. Highlights from 2006 included the "Give 'Em Zell, Joe" series egging on the arrogant Connecticut senator, the Howard Kaloogian foibles, and The Propagandists video taking aim at the people who made Disney's ridiculous "Path to 9/11" possible. The General fortunately shows no sign of weariness - so here's to another great year for the Official Online Organ of the Glorious Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution.

Lynn Allen (Best Interviews, 2005) continues to offer her thoughtful perspective at Evergreen Politics, and fortunately, new interviews were not in short supply. People Lynn interviewed this year included Jim Davis, the President of Washington Farmers' Union, Congressman Jay Inslee, State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, and Democratic legislators victimized by the GOP's unsuccessful sex offender postcard scandal. Lynn also helped out with Back to the Roots in 2006, a public discovery and networking program organized through the Institute for Washington's Future consisting of blog conversations, in-person forums, and other activities.

Daniel Kirkdorffer (Best Series, 2005) [of On the Road to 2008] put his incredible energy to work in 2006 in the 8th District race, tracking the vote, gaffes, and U-Turns of the district's clueless congressman (Dave Reichert) and supporting Darcy Burner, his Democratic challenger. Especially memorable was his outstanding, detailed coverage of the October candidates' debates in Bellevue and Newcastle. Darcy came closer than any Democrat ever has come to winning, but unfortunately lost a very, very close race, to the disappointment of many. Nevertheless, Dan has resolved to continue tracking a vulnerable Dave Reichert with the same vigor as before. His commitment is inspiring and admirable.

Carl Ballard (Best News Digest, 2005) quit writing the Washington State Political Report midway through 2006, but luckily he didn't quit blogging for good. Carl, along with a few friends, now snickers at the local right wing from the cleverly named EFF'in Unsound (a play on words mocking the state's most visible right wing blog and think tank). Carl's posts have gotten longer (on average) and his focus has changed somewhat, but it's been a good thing. EFF'in Unsound is guaranteed to be a fun read throughout 2007.

The folks behind BlueOregon, 43rd State Blues, and Washblog (Best Community-Driven Blogs, 2005) have continued to focus on community; each added more contributors in 2006 and increased the amount of content. Early in 2006 Washblog transformed itself into a site based on the Scoop platform, complete with a graphical redesign, and began allowing users to post their own stories. BlueOregon, meanwhile, has more frontpage bloggers than ever and has been visually restyled slightly to reflect the changing times. To the east, the increasingly larger crew of the 43rd State Blues continues to soldier on, blue-shifting the Gem State, one blog entry at a time. Their "Spud State Rundown", a regular feature summarizing the best posts from other Gem State blogs, is undeniably one of the best digests or roundups to be found across the Northwest. Alll three sites will undoubtedly remain popular in 2007.

Jim McCabe (Most Valuable Local Coverage, 2005) had a busy 2006. He retouched McCranium's appearance, brought aboard guest posters, and broadened the scope of his blogging. He closely followed the Wright and Goldmark for Congress campaigns all year (interviews were a highlight!) and ensured that Central Washington's voice would be heard. McCranium promises to be indispensable in 2007.

David Goldstein (Best Muckraking, 2005) [of Horses Ass] is the recipient of a new Neiwert Award tradition -- the LEAP Award for alumni. The LEAP Award recognizes bloggers who successfully make the leap from blogging to traditional media. In 2006, David's dreams of becoming a radio host became reality when 710 KIRO gave him a regular weekend show after just one appearance as a guest host. These days, he hosts the David Goldstein Show weekends at the station from 7 to 10 in the evening. At the end of the year, he was asked to fill in for fellow weekday KIRO host Dave Ross over the holidays. When he wasn't bringing liberal political talk back to 710 KIRO, Goldy was fundraising for netroots candidates or posting regularly at HorsesAss. His impact has been immeasurable and we're sure he'll have a very busy 2007. (For those who love acronyms, LEAP can stand for Liberals Earnestly Applying Potential ... or something like that.)

And's the 2006 winners!

Best Guest Blogger


When local progressive writers needed a vacation or break from blogging last year, a surprising number of them turned to one trusted individual to keep their blogs fresh: the multi-talented Darryl of Hominid Views, who held down the fort at HorsesAss, Jesus' General, and even blatherWatch in 2006 when their owners were away or unavailable. He was seemingly everywhere, and yet he still managed to keep Hominid Views updated! (A particular reader favorite from Darryl's own blog is his Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza, which features links to audio and video clips of interest.)

Given his creative flair, gift for humor, and his willingness to help his tired fellow bloggers, we're sure Darryl will be doing plenty of guest posting in 2007.

Most Valuable Faith Perspective


A leading American advocate for the homeless, the Reverend Chuck Currie of Portland is the ardent author behind a fascinating blog focusing on the United Church of Christ, ecumenical issues, faith, and politics. He thoughtfully presents a progressive viewpoint on controversial issues such as immigration, prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and stem cell research. Commentary on current events is integrated with useful references to Scripture, and multimedia is frequently embedded (such as videos and podcast sermons). The seamless blend of Christian teachings with progressive values is refreshing and invigorating. Chuck's perspective as a minister is invaluable and his words of wisdom are uplifting to progressives of all faiths. Besides writing his own blog, he participates in an offshoot of the DailyKos community (Street Prophets). We're thankful that Chuck takes so much time out his life to share his spirituality through the revolutionary medium of the Internet.

Best Campaign Blog


A leader in Idaho's netroots community, Julie Fanselow is one of Idaho's most capable progressive bloggers (there are quite a few of them in the Gem State now!). Along with Jim McCabe of McCranium, she received the 2005 Neiwert Award for Most Valuable Local Coverage for her writing at Red State Rebels. Julie spent a good part of 2006 working on the Larry Grant for Congress campaign and writing Grassroots for Grant, perhaps the best campaign blog in the country. Her boundless enthusiasm and tireless pursuit of victory helped ensure Larry was nominated and chosen as a Netroots Endorsed candidate for the midterm elections. Larry didn't manage to capture Idaho's 1st District, but he came very close, and tied up Republican expenditures in a district that wouldn't normally be competitive. We hope Larry runs again -- and we hope Julie has no plans to quit what she's been doing. Idaho needs both of them.

Most Valuable Explanatory Reporting


The regional blogosphere continues to grow at a rapid pace, and in 2006, the Northwest netroots community was fortunate to be joined by an experienced activist who is a veteran of many past campaigns for progressive policy solutions. Steve Zemke, who in 2003 founded MajorityRules, launched a new blog early in 2006 and found a key niche covering issues not receiving prominent exposure on other blogs. Most significantly, in the summer of 2006, Steve maintained a consistent and unyielding focus on judicial races targeted by the right wing Building Industry Association of Washington. He profiled the incumbent justices and judges under attack, urged readers to donate to help their campaigns, dissected campaign expenditure reports from the Public Disclosure Commission, and explained how judicial races work (if there are only two candidates running in the primary, the election is decided in the primary and only one candidate goes on to the general). The right wing effort to pack the courts was ultimately a failure and we commend Steve for his efforts to mobilize the community and inform the public.

Best Series


One of the oldest progressive blogs in the region ended a long and thoughtful series in late 2006. Upper Left's "Sunday with Speaker Sam", posted nearly every Sunday by author Shaun Dale, featured musings and observations on politics from Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, who ably served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for 17 years... and is considered by many experts to be the most effective speaker in American history. The series began in July of 2005 and ran regularly until on December 17th, 2006, with over seventy installments, each featuring a quotation next to a portrait of the famous Speaker. It had a philosophic, contemplative, and even meditative quality that made it enjoyable. Though the cherished "Sunday with Speaker Sam" has been retired, it has a successor - Passages from the Prairie Populist (William Jennings Bryan). We look forward to future chapters of the new series.

Most Innovative Post


Mollie Martin's Liberal Girl Next Door, which offers thoughts on politics from an American girl, was already a fun read well into 2006 when its author decided to introduce her readers to the Democrat challenging Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the eastern part of the Evergreen State. In an innovative post entitled "Meet Peter Goldmark, The Next Congressman From Washington's 5th District", Mollie furnished a background of the district (once held by Speaker Tom Foley), a brief biographical sketch of the candidate, and finally a transcript of the instant message (IM) exchange from her conversation with Goldmark the morning before. It was a unique, informal, and cheery interview. If the past is any indication, we're bound to see more creative and original posts from Mollie in 2007.

Best Local Party Coverage


Though most of the bloggers and activists that comprise the regional netroots community consider themselves Democrats (or align Democratic), there remains a lack of coverage of party activity at the local level. Washington State has forty nine legislative districts and thirty nine counties - almost all of them have an active, organized membership of precinct committee officers and activists meeting regularly to elect Democrats and influence public policy, but not many are well covered online. Filling this void in a northern corner of the state are the contributors of Washington Outsiders, who closely follow the 42nd LD Democrats. Throughout 2006, Steve and "JPEG" extensively disseminated the local party's events and meetings as well as the campaigns of Jasper MacSlarrow (who defeated Republican Doug Ericksen) and Jesse Salomon (who challenged incumbent Republican senator Dale Brandland.) Their photoblogging was particularly well done. We hope to see other activists following in their footsteps in 2007.

Most Valuable Partnership


TJ and Carla, who we recognized last year (for Best In-State Political Coverage from Out of the State, 2005) decided to take their activism to the next level by jointly starting a new blog with a mission of providing strong advocacy based reporting and opinion from the left -- Loaded Orygun. The site launched on February 1st, 2006 with a press release that mentioned the Neiwert Awards. LO has grown a lot since then -- today it's a must read that the Beaver State political establishment can't ignore, with reporting on the Oregon Legislature, the consequences of Measure 37, right wing corruption, and a wide range of top issues. LO has also helped hold prominent Oregon Republicans like Gordon Smith and Karen Minnis accountable. TJ and Carla are a terrific, very dedicated team ... to call them the regional community's most valuable partnership is really an understatement.

Best Electoral Commentary


Idaho's progressive blogosphere grew by leaps and bounds in 2006, and one of the new faces was a senior staff officer in the Idaho Army National Guard, who founded a new blog called Idablue in March. It quickly became notable for its thoughtful electoral commentary on federal, state, and local races. Whether Alan was speculating on Idaho Speaker Bruce Newcomb's retirement, recounting experiences meeting progressive Gem State candidates, crunching campaign finance numbers, critiquing Bill Sali and Dirk Kempthorne, or analyzing the Risch/Otter contest for Governor, IdaBlue stayed informative and even entertaining throughout 2006. Alan's perspective is unquestionably valuable -- he is a great Idaho netroots resource -- but what's truly remarkable about his writing is its depth. We're very glad he's blogging and we foresee his impact will be even greater in 2007.

Best Neighborhood Newsgathering


OlyBlog is an online destination "devoted to hyperlocal news and discussion" with a focus on the city of Olympia. Run by volunteer citizen journalists, it is an exemplary example of successful neighborhood newsgathering. Its slogan says it all -- "We Are the Media". (An older, more humorous slogan was "This ain't CNN"). The site not only allows users to post stories or entries, but also encourages inclusion of video and imagery as well. It features chat, links to local artists, events, and forums. Posts range from politics to dining to theater reviews. There's even an advice column and court reporting. A significant number of residents from the from the state's capital city have joined the site since it was initially founded in 2005. It will be exciting to watch OlyBlog continue to evolve as 2007 progresses.

Best Topical Blog


The tremendous environmental challenges faced today by humankind require out of the box, inventive thinking as well as vision and action, say the contributors of Radical Noesis, who are committed to facilitating a discussion about the Earth and two major threats to a sustainable future -- global warming and the end of oil as an accessible resource. In 2006 the authors explored a multitude of issues -- green building, electronics recycling, organic farming, biofuels, changing energy consumption habits, conservation, and the feasibility of rapid adoption of renewable sources such as solar. One of the most interesting posts, from October of 2006, was a recap of a "town hall" event put on in Portland, Oregon, by Shell Oil, a subsidiary of the European fossil fuels giant Royal Dutch Shell. The complete lack of entries about the "horse race" aspect of electoral politics makes the blog a soothing, no-nonsense read. Highly recommended for those concerned with our ability to live ... which, as Al Gore has said, is what is at stake.

Finally ... A Word of Encouragement

Obviously, it's impossible for us to honor every single blogger in the regional progressive blogosphere at once ... there are just too many good blogs with good people behind them. The Regional Blogs Directory on Pacific Northwest Portal currently stands at 242 progressive blogs from five NW states. That's a lot. And the directory is only going to get bigger, because there are good blogs out there that we haven't listed yet, and new blogs will be created.

If you didn't get recognized with an award for 2006, there's no reason to feel disappointed. If you're a progressive and you're blogging, you're already a winner, because you've taken your activism to a whole new level. Stay committed. Pick an issue or a campaign in the new year and resolve to work as hard as you can to change this nation for the better. Let us know what you're up to - tell us what you're doing to make a difference. The more involved you are in these next twelve months, the more likely you'll be recognized with an award a year from now. Remain focused and keep blogging. Your nation, your region, your state, and your community need you.

Congratulations to all the winners; be sure to check them out. The awards are terrific reminder of all the blogs working hard out there in our neck of the woods, and just the process of watching the awards has tuned me in to the excellence of their work. I'll be adding to my blogroll those award winners not already on it.

And just remember: I'm not dead yet!

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