It’s that time of the year again when Creative Loafing surveys its readers to determine the ‘Best of the Bay’ for a range of categories, such as “Worst Local Politician” and “Best New Idea for Tampa Bay.” Because of their popularity and many of the awards’ uniqueness, a ‘Best of the Bay’ award is rather coveted. Lord knows, I’ve actively campaigned in the past for a BOTB.
But not this year.
Last year, I was an editor’s choice for Best Local Blog. I still am very grateful for that recognition.
But it’s a no-brainer that I am the Best Local Blogger. I mean, it’s not even close. In fact, there is what I do and then there is what the rest of local blogosphere, populated by the likes of Catherine Durkin Robinson, does.
One thing to consider is how few topics work as subjects for blogging. Blogging has almost become synonymous with political blogging, although there are very interesting, wonderful blogs about food & dining, motherhood, photography, etc. Yet, when someone refers to the term “blogosphere”, are they talking about anything else other than the political blogosphere? Therefore, when deciding what is the “best” local blog, it’s difficult to put political blogging in the same category as, say, blogging about music, which may be interesting, but not what is being discussed at the Poynter Institute.
Another issue to consider is that too few of the bloggers I would vote for just don’t blog enough for full consideration. My colleague Ben Kirby is a perfect example of this criticism. Ben is an engaging, gifted, passionate writer, but we only get from him four or five posts a week. Clark over at Ridiculous Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness is an interesting writer, but he posted just 15 times in August, 17 times in July and 21 times in June. Not that quantity should be valued over quality, but, the question must be asked if a blog post falls in a forest, who is there to read it? I just don’t know if that’s blogging, in the same vein as what Andrew Sullivan does.
In fact, the mention of Andrew Sullivan brings up the most important point I need to make. Sullivan is a professional blogger, meaning he derives his living (partially) from blogging for the Daily Beast. Sullivan sits at the top of a very small pile of journalists and writers who are provided the wonderful opportunity to blog for a living.
Somewhere in that pile is SaintPetersBlog.com, although I have many times professed that I am not a journalist. Like Sullivan, but unlike Kirby, I blog for a living, meaning I derive my living (partially ) from blogging. Earning a comfortable living from blogging is truly a gift from on high. Because, if nothing else, it allows me to blog, write, Tweet, etc., pretty much all of the time. Yes, I still have a nice little consulting business, but the selling of advertising on SaintPetersBlog.com affords me the opportunity to do something other bloggers do not.
Now, being a professional blogger does not necessarily make me the “best” blogger, but it certainly puts what I do in a different, pro-am category. Being a professional blogger does have its advantages. It provides me with resources to pursue stories, much in the same way a traditional reporter does.
Having advertisers has also added a level of accountability that you won’t find elsewhere in Tampa Bay. I work harder because my advertisers paid good money to communicate their message. I owe it to them to deliver content (and a lot of it) which attracts (a lot of) viewers.
Writing SaintPetersBlog started out as a hobby, but it has grown into something different, something special to me. Four other individuals work on the site (albeit part-time) and projects connected to the site. There is a budget and a payroll and investors.
In fact, I really don’t like thinking of SaintPetersBlog as a “blog” anymore, although it’s not comprehensive enough to be considered a news site. I’ve had trouble lately figuring out what it or I am.
Of course, I think I am the “best” blogger, but what does that even mean? I’ll leave that to the editors of Creative Loafing to decide.
In the meantime, this is how I am voting in some of the categories:
Best Local Hero: I hesitate using the term “best” here, but our best local heroes are the fallen police officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. No-brainer.
Best Local Politician: I am completely biased, but how can Tampa Bay’s best local politician not be Senator Jack Latvala after the way he all-but single-handedly kept the Florida Legislature from following through on its most extreme, right-wing ideas. I’m sure there are some nicer, sweeter politicians than that ol’ grizzly bear, but Latvala is literally standing against the barbarians at the gate and deserves all the recognition we can foist upon him.
Worst Local Politician: So many candidates, so little time…yet, my vote goes to St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster who has spent his time in office doing less with more. He’s also the main obstacle to a regional solution to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in the bay area.
Am not going to waste time voting on such categories as “Best County”…
Best Local Columnist: Here’s hoping that Howard Troxler DOES NOT win this award as a going-away present, even if he deserves the award (or not). I just wish there was a columnist who actually strived to be the best columnist, rather than faux self-effacingly strived for the award. In other words, I wish someone would muscle-up to the job and say, enough with the ‘decline of journalism’ crap, I’m here to write until I wear out my keyboard via every medium available to me.
Best CLTampa.com Contributor: Woe to the hand which does not award this distinction to Catherine Durkin-Robinson.
Best Local Personality to Follow on Twitter: Even though they have a statewide profile, @ProgressFlorida is based in St. Pete, so they should be eligible for this award. And considering that they are pretty much the most vocal voice of opposition to Governor Rick Scott, they’ll get my vote, especially because they are always providing interesting content.
Best Local Website: I am simply and often amazed by the influence of iLoveTheBurg.com. The site has so many friends on Facebook, so many comments from its readers, such ability to make an otherwise ordinary event exciting. I am also voting for them in the category of Best Local Facebook Page.
Best Protest: With Rick Scott serving as Governor, there are a lot of possible contenders in this category. So I am going to vote for the one I helped organize – Boo Rick Scott – simply because for one horribly loud moment, the people of Florida were able to tell Rick Scott what they really thought of him. Watching Scott scurry off the field as the boos and catcalls rained down on him was worth the price of the ticket to the baseball game.
Anyway, those are just a few of my votes. Evidently, there are some very competitive categories. Click here to find out which categories are coming down to the wire.