Monday, November 12, 2012

The state of the League City blogosphere

A long time ago and even recently, I mentioned that it was never my intention to make Centerpointe Communicator into an "issues" blog.  I had intended to preserve this as a "lifestyle" blog, my personal Suzy Homemaker-style recreational outlet to counterbalance my otherwise-serious and technically-oriented lifestyle as a parent and micro-business owner. 
Every once in a while I'd like to kick back and forget about all those years I spent studying rocket science in graduate school and instead focus on the boundless enrichment that mindless television can contribute to my life.  In the process of blogging, I have ended up availing myself of tear-jerker style indulgences, alright, but they weren't the type I initially anticipated.
The trouble with my initial plan was as follows:  I began to get increasingly concerned with what's happening in League City on administrative as well as political levels, AND, to my knowledge at least, very few others seemed to be making much of an effort to bring those issues into the public view. 

Or if they did push those issues into view, out of necessity, it was largely restricted to mainstream reporting.   Galveston County Daily News generally does their job very well, but they are a commercial news outlet and they have to act as such if they are to survive in the market.  They are also spread thinly and are routinely forced to focus on the bizarre antics that plague other cities that also fall within their coverage area, such as La Marque, and (holy crap - what next!!) City of Galveston.  Much the same restrictions can be seen to characterize the reporting depths achieved by the geographically-distant Houston Chronicle (example here). 

My husband moans about the fact that League City has experienced all this explosive growth and yet hasn't managed to give birth to its own newspaper yet.  Maybe some day that will change, but I'm not holding my breath, especially in light of what's happened to commercial journalism over the past few years
How big does a city have to get before it can support its own newspaper?  Does anyone know the answer to this?
Graph screengrabbed from this site.
Far more deleterious than the naturally-limited commercial news media are the entities who are augmenting the newspapers' efforts with non-commercial public commentary mostly because they are focused on personal gain, not because they are primarily concerned with objective facts, the rights of the taxpayer, or the future of League City. 
  • Such is the case with every real estate blogger in and around this city, the ones who blog only as thinly-veiled attempts to increase the size of their own contact databases.  These are not bloggers - they are marketers.
  • Such is the case with everybody else who is engaged in direct selling of goods and services.  They are exploiting a free platform in an attempt to raise their own profiles, and they are clogging up the search engines with worthless content in the process.  Every time I start trolling around to check up on who's-who in blogging these days, I have to waste valuable time sorting through all of their useless self-promotional spew.   
  • Such is also the case with certain political special interest groups whose efforts I'm not even going to dignify by referencing active URLs.  Their blogging amounts to blatant self-advocacy for the obvious greedy reasons. 
There are, however, a number of additional individuals and social consortia for whom the citizen-journalism integrity issues have never been as black and white as all that. 

The people in this category are perhaps leaving the door open to some kind of a longer-term personal advantage in terms of political gain and/or a specific market share, yet at the same time, they are clearly justifying their own existences in the blogosphere by providing valid observations, viewpoints, and raising very good questions, as well as furnishing factual content that is genuinely of interest to many of the folks who care about League City.  These are people whom I don't know and might not agree with, but they do have valid things to say, and I definitely want to hear those things. 

Back in 2009, former (?) Chron writer / League City reporter Thayer Evans produced a little piece titled "Dueling blogs in League City" which neatly summarized the guts and history of some of the players who fall into that category.  Thayer focused primarily on Mallios and Edelman and the friction between the two.

But that was three years ago, and since that time, things in the blogosphere have continued to evolve.  As a citizen journalist who is aligned with absolutely nobody in any political or commercial sense, I'm only partly apprised of how and why they are evolving, but here below is what I can report about it as of today. 

My concern for the state of information availability began to escalate earlier this year because Mallios appeared to cease production of The League City Blog.  As of today, its most recent post is from July 2012 - four months ago.  This cessation was particularly unfortunate given that it was occurring in a pivotal political season, and the disappearance of this collective voice was one of the reasons why I stepped up my own process of blogservation and commentary.  League City is a big city with a controversial political profile and somebody should be making an ongoing attempt (however limited) to journalistically mind this store. 

Following that apparent summer cessation, what concerned me even more was Mallios's unabashed open love letter to Tim Paulissen in GCDN in October.   When I first read it, my exact reaction was, "What the hell was that?!"   Bear in mind that I'm a complete political Newbie here, and a reluctant one at that, but I have no idea why GCDN would want to publish that as anything other than a clearly-marked op-ed.  Someone please explain this to me if you think it would be worth your effort and my time to cover it.  I have no issue with personal loyalties, but when they are played out in that format, of course it calls into question a lot of wider objectivity issues. 
Please, not in the commercial press!
At least, not without being appropriately captioned.
So basically, I was increasingly concerned that a disturbing journalistic vacuum may have begun opening up here, and initially I did not understand why.  But this question got partially answered within the past couple of days when it came to my attention that Edelman et al. re-commenced blogging under the title Real Scary League City Politics about six weeks ago.  I guess I didn't get the memo on that, and being a nascent site, it hadn't had a chance to rise high enough in hits to enter the general public's radar. 

Anyway, here's where I stand on protocol as we move forward in our inextricably-intertwined and arguably-underserved commercial and citizen journalism universes: 

I'm attentively reading, referencing, and blogrolling (and occasionally commenting on) anyone in League City, Clear Lake, or Galveston County whom I feel has something worthwhile to say about any relevant local topic, even if it can be argued that they're partially driven by their own interests (e.g., Edelman is aligned with former Councilman Cones who still appears to have a strong interest in muni affairs), and even if I don't agree with them on many issues. 

The purpose of the blogging medium is exchange of information and genuine dialog.  Everybody should have the opportunity to be exposed to what everyone else has to say, to at least be informed about the range of other viewpoints out there. 

I'm glad (and relieved) to see that this new blog has initiated, for this reason.  My husband and I both have good jobs and neither of us have the time, interest, or ambition to make extensive contributions to the League City political scene at this point in our lives.  But every time I read stories like this and this and this, I just cringe and then I feel compelled to do something about it, as any responsible citizen would.  Administrative continuity is absolutely vital for the success of a city like League City, especially technical continuity.  Without a threshold level of stability and continuity, institutional knowledge gets lost, sometimes to the point where astonishingly bad (and expensive) mistakes can happen.  Such as a city spending over a million dollars on a water treatment facility without ever getting it working, and then only discovering the oversight when the city's water pressure starts failing in the depths of drought.  The likes of that is downright horrifying and would compel anyone to make a contribution toward remediating the obvious municipal dysfunction. 

Blog on.  All available voices are needed to help keep tabs on a fairly big city that continues to be characterized by a fairly small amount of news reporting.  And if any additional new blogs pop up, please, someone drop me a line. 


  1. I just wanted to post a 'thank you' for all the time and effort you are putting in to this blog.
    I've enjoyed the 'lifestyle' entries, with their many and varied ideas on how to improve the look and feel of our community, as well as your forays into other issues, like the lack of sidewalks or thoughts on trash collection, where you put forth thoughtful 'big picture' views of what is going on around us.

  2. You're welcome! I plan to continue with my regularly-scheduled domestic programming, as well as the more serious issues. I'm certainly not done with the topic of wise (and small) investments for improving property values around here. It's hard to find the time for all of it...


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