posted by Edward Felker, P-B Washington Bureau
Brian Davis, a Mayo oncologist from Rochester, is the only Republican candidate so far in the 1st Congressional District to author his own blog, Brian 2008. He is one of four Republicans seeking the nomination to run against freshman Rep. Tim Walz, D-Mankato, who also has not yet started blogging, making Davis somewhat unique in augmenting the now-standard campaign web site with a blog.
Last week Political Party contacted Davis by email and, over three days, conducted an email interview, which seems fitting for the subject. Interestingly, Davis acknowledged that he's had contact with the liberal blogs focused on the 1st Congressional District, and finds blogging fun.
Here is our interview in question and answer format. All questions and answers are preserved verbatim, with some banter edited out.
Q: Why blog?
A: I believe that a web log, or blog as it is known, is an important tool to interact with voters and others in a campaign. It is quick and inexpensive requiring few resources to initiate and maintain. Material on the internet, including blogs, is often used as a basis for further investigation and reporting by the main stream media. Likewise, a blog serves as a platform to provide a running commentary on issues that are important and of interest to voters.
Q: Thanks Mr. Davis -- followup questions. You could do those things through your web site, I would say, though it's a little more cumbersome. The underlying idea of blogs is to foster community with your readers, via their comments and your reactions. Do you want to have a conversation with your readers and potentially your critics, or do you see it more as an easy way to post updates on the campaign and your activities without taking comments?
Question 2: Have you blogged before, or is this new to you?
A: Thanks for the additional questions and commentary. In building on your comments, I am interested in fostering community with readers and as a means to engage in constructive dialogue with those wishing to share different perspectives. The blog also provides a straightforward means to post updates of campaign activity.
No, I have not blogged before. My writing has consisted mostly of peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature, theses, email and other correspondence.
Q: Who is your target readership? Voters, bloggers, campaign contributors, party activists? If all, how would you rank them?
A: All of the groups listed are target readership in no specific order in addition to friends, family, supporters and those wishing to engage in constructive dialogue.
Q: What's a good daily hit rate so far? I know these things have low hit rates, so I'm not going to portray it as ignored if you are seeing only a few dozen a day. Blogs need continuous posting to build a significant readership.
A: We're yet to break 100 per day, but have come close.
Q: Is a blog in your view mandatory in the current communications climate, similar to a web site? If not, what added value does it bring to your candidacy beyond the content itself -- hipness? Buzz on other blogs?
A: I will reserve judgment on answering this first question but clearly the blogs provide a source of quick information as well as insight into the mindset and thought processes of the individuals authoring them. It provides a platform to tell a story that is less encumbered by the constraints of most other media.
Q: I see some other bloggers have picked up your blog and written about it, and you've checked in with BSP, despite Ms. Sorensen being a fan of the congressman. Why bother engaging other bloggers -- do they represent an audience that matters, and if so, why?
(Editors note: BSP is A Bluestem Prairie, authored by Sally Jo Sorensen, who posts under the nom de blog Ollie Ox. Davis has also caught the attention of D.J. Danielson's I Don't Hate America blog, and on his campaign site Davis showcases his interactions with the Blond Sagacity and Evil Bobby blogs).
A: The other bloggers clearly are an audience that matters. One man or one woman armed with a laptop, a digital camera and the First Amendment can make a difference. There's little doubt from my perspective that the blogs influence stories run in the mainstream media and, consequently, public perceptions. Besides, it's fun.