Working the Story Board

First Pick of the Broccoli
First Pick of the Broccoli

My work as fill-in editor at Blog for Iowa begins in three weeks.

It has been easy to fill a story board with post ideas. What’s hard is picking what matters from flotsam and jetsam in a sea of social media.

A goal of Blog for Iowa is to “harness the power of the Internet to continue to build our Iowa grassroots communication network.” Our blog has its roots in the 2004 Howard Dean campaign, which innovated use of the Internet to organize and raise money in politics. Internet use has evolved since then with most news outlets having a presence. I don’t think we had today’s social media — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube — in mind ten years ago.

That social media would be a source of stories is still new, but has gone mainstream. Often the stories I read in our local newspaper have their roots in an Internet discussion. If a person wants to write a decent blog post, at least one toe should be dipped in life to be grounded in reality. It would be better to immerse oneself totally in life and eschew the Internet as a primary source of stories.

To the extent writers do this, their work is more readable and that’s what I hope to accomplish in 23 posts this August.

The topics will be familiar. Publicize the campaigns of candidates for election to congress; the presidential election campaign; climate change; the local food movement; nuclear weapons modernization; voting rights; civil rights; drug abuse; working poor; and the Iowa legislature quickly fill the slots. The challenge is saying something others haven’t — grounded in conversations that take place in the course of daily lives.

This approach presumes a level of participation in society. The material is there. The trick is to harvest the stories, both positive and negative, without creating unnecessary friction, then tell them.

It can be done and it’s what I have in mind for August.