Changes at BlueOregon

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

My friends,

In the past two months, we've seen some pretty dramatic change here "backstage" at BlueOregon. In the interest of transparency, I thought I'd highlight them for you, and discuss what you can expect here in the next 3-6 months.

First, we've now had two months of contributions by Nick Wirth, the BlueOregon Fellow. Some 90% or more of the "in the news" and "elsewhere" items have been written by Nick since he started. While it was never true that I wrote all of them (we do have two other editors who shared the load - Charlie Burr and Jeff Alworth), I was writing a big chunk of them. For two months, that's no longer been true. Nick's done a great job boosting our volume and broadening our horizons. Thank you, Nick. Keep up the good work!

Second, there's been a bit of a refrain from some critics in our comments here. It goes something like this - Kari works as a consultant to campaigns; so we can't trust BlueOregon to be even-handed. I've been arguing that point - noting our 30+ contributors and the support we had from other Democratic gubernatorial campaigns in 2006, despite my work for the Kulongoski campaign. But while I've been making the case for our even-handedness, we've also been taking pro-active steps to address even the appearance of conflict of interest. Here's what we've done:

  1. In any situation where I am, in my day job, working for a particular candidate in a statewide primary - I've contacted all of the other candidates and made sure that they've got another contact here at BlueOregon. Sometimes that's another editor, sometimes that's Nick. In any case, they don't have to bounce their ideas or share their news with me. (We haven't contacted every other candidate at every level, but the same approach will apply.) The reactions have been universally positive and thankful.
  2. With respect to the loudest questions around here - from supporters of Steve Novick: I've gone out of my way to encourage the Novick supporters amongst our editors and contributors to start posting their thoughts. From the beginning, the Novick campaign has had a direct pipeline to BlueOregon that doesn't include me, but that hasn't always been apparent to their supporters. It's taken a while to get the pro-Novick contributors going, but posts like the recent ones from Leslie Carlson and Kristin Teigen are a good start. The more voices, on all sides, the better.
  3. We're continuing to encourage the growth of the progressive blogosphere in Oregon, highlighting new blogs as they appear. If the content is interesting and original, we'll share them with our readers - regardless of their views on any particular candidate. We're building a movement here, and the more the merrier.

Third, we're continuing our work on building a new back-end for BlueOregon. We'll be working to combat the ongoing flood of anonymous and untraceable comments from paid right-wing "blog attack" services and overzealous GOP staffers, especially crucial as we head into a hyper-competitive US Senate race. In addition, we'll be building new features that improve transparency and allow the audience to rate posts and comments, and rank contributors and commenters. We'll also add "tags" that will help categorize the posts here at BlueOregon and make it easier to find stuff you care about. You can expect these changes in the spring sometime.

Finally, on a personal note, you should expect to see me around here a lot less often in the next few months. My wife and I are expecting a baby boy just about any day now - and I'll be prioritizing my family and my work. I feel confident that we've got things covered around here, with increasing contributions from our editors and the excellent work by Nick. BlueOregon should keep on humming along without me. I'll check in once in a while and occasionally provide editorial direction to our team as usual. I'm sure I won't be able to stay away entirely (and I wouldn't want to) - but expect much less from me personally.

Whether you're a contributor, a commenter, or one of the thousands of folks that quietly reads, thanks for your ongoing support of BlueOregon. Without you, we'd just be a bunch of pixels and bits on a hard drive somewhere. With you, this community helps change the world. Thank you.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    We don't always agree but allow me to say you have done an excellent job at Blue Oregon. And best wishes to you and your wife with the birth of your new son.

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    Lots more well wishes on becoming a daddy. I don't think there's anything better that becoming a parent for the first time.

    It's been great watching the past few years as many activists I know who are around my age become parents and begin enjoying all the little things I've been enjoying the last few years.

    This past few months has been great as Abby learns all kinds of things. He favorite right now is similes, which I don't recall knowing until I was older than 5. But it seems every day she's making up a new one.

  • jraad (unverified)

    Kari, you rock. nuff said...

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    All that sounds really great, especially the baby part. We've got tons of kid stuff -- let us know if you need anything. I'm writing a book right now, "Changing More than Diapers: A Parent's Guide to Political Activism." I'd love your thoughts and input....

    Also, while we may not always agree, I've never doubted your integrity. You run an awesome ship.

    Now, I'm just nervous about the contributor rankings....

  • Trollbot9000 (unverified)

    What? You mean you're not the MerkleyBot that some of your uber-progressive commenter's would have us believe?

    EBThom, torridjoe and the like are probably at a seance right now, attempting to communicate with Paul Wellstone for a Novick endorsement from beyond the grave. Should he agree, their next request will probably be "Please haunt Kari Chisolm. Haunt him good!"

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    What a great concept for a book! As many in Multnomah County can tell you, my daughter's been to her share of political meetings, events, etc. She was in the DPO Volunteer Center last year a lot - she put labels on stuff, helped pull old pages out of sheet protectors, etc. She's 5, and I'm sure people will see her around again next year.

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    Kari you have done an awesome job building this community and providing it with structure. Furthermore you have always been a great help to me personally on campaigns and projects, and I want to thank you for that.

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    congratulations, Kari! i still remember vividly my first moments as a parent; it never becomes old. it's the best part of my life, by far, and i know you & your wife are going to love it. eventually. in about 20 years or so. but the next few years will be hell & job intermixed, and you'll never really know what hit you.

    as for me, thanks for opening the door to me here and never saying a word about what i post. i know you're honorable and wouldn't subvert anyone's campaign. and given that 95% of the time you're on the right team, it hardly matters!

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    Congratulations, Kari. And thanks for the update.

    I know that you've been pro-active in soliciting posts from Novick supporters, and the effort is appreciated.

    As Oregon's largest liberal blog, BlueOregon's credibility is important to all of us, if for no other reason than providing a voice for so many people who formerly felt voiceless.

    Since you and your wife share it, have you considered a third phonetic version of "Kari" for your boy? Think of the time savings on answering machine greetings alone. :)

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    I'll echo T.A. about kids except that I would suggest that once that first period of sleepless nights passes and you get into the swing of things... soak up each and every moment that you can! Trust me, you'll either be glad you did or regret that you didn't when they get older. The unqualified, boundless love of a child for his or her parent is truly a wonder to behold and experience. There's nothing like it this side of heaven. And you'll come out of it knowing that you've been gifted with a new perspective on love that only an involved parent ever discovers.

  • LT (unverified)

    Kari, If you have a digital camera, be sure to send pictures to any family not living in Portland. That has been a great part of those of us in Oregon watching my grand-nephew in Denver grow up this past year. The very early pictures, the oversized teddy bear bigger than he was, the day he discovered the family dog, the first time he ate bananas were just priceless.

    Family considerations sometimes make politics seem like a low priority.

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    I second what LT said. My husband had two known blood relatives until June of this year - our daughter and his sister (who lives in NYC). When his sister and husband had their daughter earlier this year (on our 10th wedding anniversary, no less!), my husband was very excited.

    He's been thrilled to get a ton of pictures online from them. They set up an online photo account and uploaded all their pics there. It's been great watching our niece get bigger and comparing expressions, smiles, etc. with Abby at the same age.

  • Terry (unverified)

    Welcome to the wonderful world of fatherhood, Kari!

    Now here's my advice from one who's been through it --just send your boy to his local neighborhood public school (when he's of age, of course.) He'll do well. I guarantee it.

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    just send your boy to his local neighborhood public school

    That's our plan! Thanks, Terry.

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    Kari - you realize of course that we of the the BlueOregon community think we have the right to determine your boy's name in an online poll. Or at least his middle name. Best regards and wishes -- Steve Novick

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    I'll make no note of any sort of disagreement we've ever had, I'm easy to have those with...

    I won't say BO has been a model of neutrality, but it sure has made the effort and anyone who doesn't appreciate that - should meet me.

    You'll make a great Dad, enjoy what you can and get along with the rest.

    Thanks for the great ad.

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    Hey Steve -- Nice idea! Ask your campaign manager. He knows the name. :)

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    Welcome to the club, Kari. Get your rest now; you'll never know such delight as a well-rested evening again until...well, mine are 10 and 7. I'll let you know. :)

    I also have to say that in the last 2-3 weeks or so, the way coverage has been approached regarding the Senate race has greatly improved. Maybe you weren't aware what was happening, but y'all took steps to avoid it anyway, and that's great.

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    I don't think our approach has changed at all. At the risk of turning this into another Novick/Merkley thread (please god help us), I think there was just a lot of Merkley news during the month he launched his campaign; just like there was a bunch of Novick news when he launched. In the short term, it's clearly going to appear unbalanced when one side is making lots of news. But we've now centered back to equilibrium, with both campaigns chugging along.

  • edison (unverified)

    Congratulations Kari and best wishes! And thank you for BO. It's a daily must-read for me. Cheers!

  • Brian Earl Ron Merkley Edwards Chisolm (unverified)

    Thank you, Daddy, for clearing that up. Even though I'm a Novick fan (we 19-inch tall people have to stick together), I never believed a word those mean people wrote about you. Do those people have a life, Daddy? Please tell me there is more to life than screaming at people on blogs. I'm scared, Daddy! I don't want to be one of those scary people! Wahhhhh! Wahhhhhh! Wahhhhh! Wahhhhh!

    On a positive note, all of the crap that's been flung at you should have you prepared for what's coming out of my bottom for the next two years. Apparently, I'm a Democrat -- I start out pooping green, then it turns yellow.

    xxxooo, Brian Earl Ron Merkley Edwards Chisolm

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    Excellent work, Kari and Carrie. I hope you know that the dastardly Jeff Merkley is going to eat that baby.

  • DAN GRADY (unverified)


    All I have to say is be a Real Man and get real clothe diapers!

    I was a late bloomer with kids, and my wife is 14 years my junior, yet much more experienced with babies. I was scared out of my mind I would stick a pin in my baby, but in short order I was a dirty diaper cleaning/changing machine.

    The clothe diapers, and corn starch prevented diaper rash, or any irritation for a full year until she started to walk around the house and got more mobile and we tried disposable diapers, and don't you know the first day, the first hour she was in a disposable she got a diaper rash.

    So, Papa Kari, see yourself with that pin in your mouth, and folding a diaper as a badge of honor!

    Happy Thoughts;

    Dan Grady

  • urban planning overlord (unverified)

    I think you ought to make the site open for "progressive" Republican candidates too, in the Hatfield-McCall-Packwood (yes, he was reasonably progressive even if he was a pervert) mold.

    I know there aren't any right now, but some day, once again ...

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    Last evening while supervising phone banking shifts to push out votes for Measures 49 & 50 I noticed one father/son team and one father/daughter team. Side-by-side, leaning close, sharing a smile as they dialed and talked during their shift together. Neither of the young people were old enough to vote.

    You and your wife will "teach" your son many things. Expect to learn even more from him. Here's to wooden toys, imagination and plenty of good books!

    Good range of changes. You and others continue to improve BO. Thanks for identifying me as a contributor for BO. Your standards continue to be high which motivates many of us to reach beyond rants and move into reason when we write.

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    UPO -- Candidates of all stripes are welcome to send us stuff. But "progressive republicans"? I won't hold my breath.

  • trishka (unverified)

    kari, congrats on your impending arrival, and thanks for all the hard work you've done here at BO. i've enjoyed meeting you & interacting with you.

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    Congratulations, Kari!

    It's great that BlueOregon has grown into the media powerhouse that it has, and you folks do a great service to Oregon. If I wasn't so busy with school and my other writing job I'm sue I'd be trying to contribute.

    Anyway, I look forward to the continued growth and prosperity of Blue Oregon and Oregon Democrats!

  • MCT (unverified)
    (Show?) rock! You've done a great service to the state, and your readers here. Thank you for everything, and on a personal note, thanks for posting my guest columns. We all like to feel our voice can be heard.

    Enjoy parenthood, excel & rejoice in your work, don't forget the little guys & gals, and don't be too much a stranger to us.

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    media powerhouse

    Thanks, but I'm not so sure about that....

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    media powerhouse

    I have a tendency toward overstatement.

    But really, the site seems to be flying high and definitely operates, along with LO, as an excellent outlet for progressives in Oregon to come together. As we have proven through discussions of (and controversies over) this Senate race, Oregon Democrats can disagree yet still stand strong. The unfaltering support of the Merkley folks and the Novick supporters for their respective candidates has shown a solid foundation for beating Gordon Smith in the general election, as well as a solidarity to take that Senate seat.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Kari, congratulations on your first child! As the father of three (27, 20 and 18), I can agree that it is time to catch up on your sleep.

  • Joel Barker (unverified)

    Thanks Kari. I am glad for all of your points. You are not just progressive, but also proactive.

    Nick's writing is a welcome addition to BO.

    I am sure that your back-end software upgrade is eating up a lot of time. It will be good to have the capability to "flag and tag" here, however. That's the kind of effort that we on the outside will never fully appreciate about your role here.

    Way to be thick skinned and responsive about transparency, as well. I have in fact questioned -- not criticized -- you about your relationship with Merkely on an article thread. I suppose I should have been aware that the thread was going to spiral into pointless sniping, but it was hard to leave, as you say, "the appearance of a conflict of interest" unquestioned.

    If you can clarify your position early on, then BO won't get filled up with all that wasted rhetoric of suspicion and we can get on with the business at hand:

    Congratulating your on the birth of your first child!

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    If you can clarify your position early on, then BO won't get filled up with all that wasted rhetoric of suspicion

    <h2>Of course, I always post my disclosure when I'm writing about a client.</h2>

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