blogHOUSTON was launched in 2004 by Kevin Whited and Anne Linehan to offer a conservative perspective on Houston-area media and politics. Whited had previously started the media and politics website Chronically Biased with conservative radio host (now State Senator) Dan Patrick. Linehan was an early contributor to Chronically Biased. That site eventually shut down, and two new sites (this one and the now-defunct Lone Star Times) were born.
Over the years, blogHOUSTON has touched on culture, sports, and entertainment, but the focus has always been Houston media and politics.
Today, blogHOUSTON focuses on the following:
Commenting on Houston-area politics and policy from a conservative perspective
There’s a popular phrase that garbage collection is not conservative or liberal (substitute Republican or Democratic if you must, but we choose not to), the implication being that ideology doesn’t matter at the local level. We disagree. We think that limited government (in terms of size, revenue, responsibility and regulatory reach), fiscal responsibility, market-friendly policymaking, and government transparency/accountability are very much relevant to the local level, all discussions about garbage aside.
Highlighting watchdog journalism
Unfortunately, Houston’s newspaper of record has mixed record when it comes to watchdog and investigative journalism. Over the Jeff Cohen years in particular, the Houston Chronicle clearly prioritized boosterism (advocacy of establishment preferences and even preferences of Cohen’s wife, such as anti-death penalty crusading) over heavy-hitting watchdog/investigative journalism. Under Nancy Barnes, the newspaper did re-engage in terms of watchdog/accountability journalism — but with a small newsroom Barnes was not able fully to rebuild after the Cohen demolition.
Where the newspaper has sometimes come up short, television, community newspapers, and even online news organizations have stepped in to fill the void, turning out impressive watchdog journalism (as the scalps collected by Wayne Dolcefino over his years in TV news and the work published by the late Trent Seibert attest).
Our goal is to link such journalism (with a brief excerpt) when it appears, sometimes with commentary and sometimes without. Watchdog journalism is hard and requires commitment. It deserves an “attaboy!” To that end, if you’re a producer or consumer of such journalism and we’ve missed an example, please pass it along. And thanks.
Critiquing biased and/or bad journalism
Chronically Biased launched with the dual purposes of highlighting the liberal bias of the area newspaper of record and providing a conservative counterweight. Whether or not one thinks that project or its successors were successful or even meritorious probably depends on one’s position on the ideological spectrum. However, the question of mainstream liberal media bias (and specifically, Houston Chronicle liberal bias) is no longer really in dispute, thanks to the definitive research and analysis by political scientist Timothy Groseclose (originally published by the prestigious Quarterly Journal of Economics, then published in revised and extended form as an even more comprehensive book) in modeling and measuring media bias. It’s worth noting that Groseclose offers a distortion theory of media bias, rather than impugning the motives of journalists (we’ll send you to his research for details). Furthermore, Groseclose argues that such media bias has a significant impact on citizen/voter behavior. We’ll borrow from Groseclose’s work in criticizing examples of such journalism locally when we find it (although the nature of the blog means our sample will necessarily be selective, rather than comprehensive).
We will also critique examples of “just plain bad” journalism (getting facts wrong, boosterism, selective manipulation of data, selective manipulation of sources/quotes, ethical transgressions, etc.). Again, our sample will be selective rather than comprehensive. After all, we are volunteer bloggers; nobody is funding a professional media-criticism effort. Sadly, nobody is even DOING professional media criticism here in the nation’s fourth-largest city these days, since some years ago, the Village Voice Houston media property reassigned its onetime critic to trolling for website pageviews with insipid blog posts about… nothing much (and now, the Houston Press is effectively defunct. Hmm).
Highlighting citizen journalism/commentary/activism on these issues
Have a website and write about these issues from a similar perspective? Let us know about it so we can link it. We think such topics are much more interesting than the latest insipid Listicle at Chron.com! Even better — give some thought to contributing here.
Part of a Houston-area organization that supports/promotes market-friendly, liberty-oriented ideas/policies at the local level? Let us know about it.
A final note is in order. blogHOUSTON does not endorse political candidates or parties. One of the unfortunate developments in the blogosphere has been the rise of partyblogging and candidate blogging. We think parties and candidates should be more than capable of communicating to the public without blind allegiance from (formerly independent) bloggers, so you will not see us telling readers for whom to vote (party or personality) via formal endorsements. That’s your call. Individual bloggers may, of course, offer their thoughts on candidates from time to time.