Most of Ohio’s political bloggers are rank amateurs, and that includes myself, whose blogging comes from inward motivations. Most bloggers, like me, don’t make any money to blog. There are a few that have a little bit of advertising. There are a few that are professional, like Progress Ohio, that has its own office space, or Openers, which is a blogging arm of a newspaper (in this case, the Plain Dealer). For those few blogs that aren’t purely amateur, they have an exposure, however slight, to external editorial constraints. Therefore, for the most part, bloggers write what they want to write without outside interference.
Jill Miller Zimon, of Writes Like She Talks (WLST), once abandoned an arrangement with the Plain Dealer ostensibly because she sensed that some entity or entities desired to influence what she wrote or didn’t write. Writes Like She Talks was one of my favorite left-of-center blogs to read.
After visiting Columbus last month to tape a segment of “The State of Ohio” for broadcast on PBS and The Ohio Channel, Eric Vessels of Plunderbund graciously introduced me to some bloggers within the office at Progress Ohio. I asked if Progress Ohio had made any decisions regarding the statewide issues on the ballot for this November. Passage of Issue 5 was to be their main thrust (I also urge a “YES” vote on Issue 5). My own main thrust is defeat of Issue 6, a casino-monopoly-granting amendment to the state constitution. The prevailing mood at Progress Ohio was “NO” on issue 6, but they had also received some communication to leave the issue alone. I understand their tenuous position, realizing the nature of their organization–an organization that needs funding in order to operate the way that it does.
Thinking back two years to the Ohio Learn and Earn farce of a state constitution amendment ballot proposal that also sought to legalize casinos, I felt that my own voice against Issue 6 this year would be joined by a chorus of agreeing bloggers, because there was such a blogswarm against gambling in 2006. The 2006 issue had stronger guarantees of tax yields by the casino, earmarked for education, just like Ohio’s lottery, several casino sites proposed, promising greater competition than the current proposed monopoly, and potentially employing more people, but an avalanche of bloggers voiced their opposition. If the 2006 issue was a turkey, deserving of defeat, then the 2008 issue currently on the ballot is a REAL STINKER, with much less to offer, any way you look at it. So far, though, there hasn’t been much of a blogswarm against Issue 6 this time around.
Is it possible that other blogs are being sent the same message as Progress Ohio, to sit on the sidelines when it comes to Issue 6?
And that brings me right back to Jill Miller Zimon, at Writes Like She Talks. WLST has not been the enjoyable read that it used to be. I am openly wondering whether JMZ’s blogging is being influenced by external forces. I’m not checking her blog as often as I used to. Is my perception off? Am I imagining things? Feel free to weigh in, but here are my own observations:
- JMZ was the clear leader of the anti-gambling blogswarm in 2006. Her most recent entry that carries the “gambling” tag was written on April 15th of this year.
- On April 15, she referenced “myohionow,” the organization backing the casino effort for the current ballot issue, but hasn’t posted any followups. For those who’ve paid attention to WLST for at least a couple of years, she’s customarily been faithful with updates and followups.
- JMZ led the blogstorm against Ohio Learn and Earn with a series of 57 REASONS to vote it down. This year, she’s reprised the 57 REASONS theme to highlight her support of the Obama/Biden presidential ticket. In reprising her 57 REASONS theme, she has referred back to her 2006 anti-gambling stance without ever referring to the gambling issue we are facing this November.
- Speaking of her support for Obama/Biden, those familiar with the JMZ of yesteryear know that she acknowledged that even candidates she supported had their human weaknesses. Since Biden joined forces with Obama and JMZ pledged to promote them, Obama and Biden have been uncharacteristically been put on a pedestal, with every personality trait lionized and every platform plank plated in gold.
- JMZ has opposed many Republican politicians openly on her blog, including George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Bob Taft, and Ken Blackwell, but she also demanded good governance from politicians within her own party, like Marc Dann. Some time after the Marc Dann episode wrapped up, though, Democrats have escaped JMZ’s scrutiny, including Jimmy Dimora, currently under investigation. I remember a time when the Cuyahoga County Commissioners passed a tax for a convention center and then blocked attempts to put the tax hike on the ballot. The JMZ I was accustomed to lashed out at the commissioners. These days? She seems to not want to go there.
- Of all the politicians JMZ has opposed, none have been met with the vicious incessant ferocity at WLST that Sarah Palin has. Last time I checked, Sarah Palin was not a criminal, like some of the others that merited JMZ’s attacks. To this day, the lowest job approval ratings Palin has garnered as Governor of Alaska is 68%. That’s stellar. The JMZ I’m accustomed to would grudgingly admit that those she opposed had some redeeming qualities. Not this time.
- JMZ was a champion of women making inroads in the political establishment. Yes, she favored candidates endorsed by Emily’s List, but she also offered congrats, however tepidly, to women of other persuasions who were able to rise to the top. That stopped after Biden joined the Obama ticket, as Palin, who didn’t ride anyone’s coattails to arrive where she is today in politics, has received worse treatment at the hands of JMZ than any prior politician, male or female.
- JMZ was genuine in her give-and-take discussions with commenters, gleaning additional knowledge from them, and occasionally adapting her perspective during the discourse as new information was acquired. More recently, JMZ concedes nothing. Once self-styled (and often characterized by others) as a moderate voice within the liberal blogosphere, she’s become immovably fixed on the left end of the spectrum and has taken a much harder edge in both her writing and her back-and-forth with commenters. Where has that moderate voice gone?
- A greater amount of WLST material of yesteryear was original compared with the more recent material. It seems that material from other people’s columns has been presented more often, of late. The recent recycled material is more divergent from JMZ’s own writings, than passages of others that she quoted in yesteryear. The recycled material more often crosses boundaries and thresholds of good taste that she, of herself, wouldn’t cross in times past. Her own voice, at least they way I recognized it, is being lost. Furthermore, there is a push to make the recycled material go viral. I didn’t notice any such WLST push for the writings of others to go viral in earlier times.
I’ve shared my observations, and readers are welcome to do the same.
Are external factors influencing/constraining Jill’s blogging? Has Jill herself changed? Or am I hallucinating?
To me, it’s not the same WLST.
October 9, 2008 at 7:21 pm
Ah yes, the rank smell of future patronage is creeping into JMZ’s actions and writing. Take the example of Russell Hughlock, (founder of Buckeye State Blog) who once hammered the ODP and any Democrat against Paul Hackett. Now, Russell sits in the relative comfort of his lie and earn easy chair in Rich Cordray’s Treasurer’s office. Has Buckeye State Blog changed as a result? Most definitely. Now, you’ll be hard pressed to read any critical word about the ODP or any other Democrat. The BS Blog is now an exclusive tool for the ODP’s Todd Hoffman (Mr. Issue 3 Gambling Learn and Earn). Todd just supplies two or three BS Blog dupes with tons of press releases and they publish away without putting forth a lot of effort regarding original content. Where’s Russell Hughlock? Preparing for his more cushy chair when Cordray wins the Attorney General race. Where might Jill Miller Zimon fit into this obvious patronage situation?… stay tuned!
October 9, 2008 at 7:29 pm
Dem’s some purty serious charges.
Having met Jill exactly one time, I think that I may say, without fear of contradiction, that I have as much insight into her character as the next semi-literate bozo who lives in the next county.
Still, I have a tough time picturing Jill as someone was subject to explicit external forces.
Speaking as one with the insight of a Friend of Job (probably what I should have called my blog), there’s a lot of personal stuff that can get in the way of blogging….
As regrettable as that may be.
October 9, 2008 at 7:48 pm
“I have a tough time picturing Jill as someone was subject to explicit external forces”
Just remember that Russell “Pounder” Hughlock also WAS tough to picture as someone “subject to explicit external forces.” Russell was the infamous independent-minded and self-defined tough talker of Ohio’s lefty blogs. Now he’s a rolly polly smiling marshmallow man
Now Russell wears business suits to the state office tower instead of nasty smelly pajamas in his basement.
October 9, 2008 at 10:39 pm
As I’ve written Daniel, this is a fantastic post and I’m happy to discuss it in the comments. But not if Dave Hickman is allowed to run roughshod. I won’t be a target for that.
October 9, 2008 at 10:47 pm
[…] here’s the thing that needs feedback – it’s a post by Daniel Jack Williamson, a fellow Ohio blogger and […]
October 9, 2008 at 11:17 pm
I read Jill WLST regularly – I don’t know her but my sense is that she calls it like she sees it. She is more center to my left and this has not changed even with the Obama/Biden ticket. Finally, she is far more tolerant within her comment discussions than I could manage.
October 9, 2008 at 11:23 pm
Dan – what are you most concerned about? I have nothing to hide. It’s life and family and writing that I do do for pay that influence when and what I write about. No one has asked me to not write about anything that I am in fact not writing about. I just came from fasting and praying my year of sinning away. I promise you – I have nothing to hide. Memory might fail me and someone will remind me of something – but otherwise? Nada besides prioritizing however best I can in the limited time I get or steal in order to put into words all the things I wish I had time to write about. God’s honest truth.
October 10, 2008 at 12:43 am
There are two concerns:
The first is that the writing doesn’t grip me like it used to. The writing used to draw me in and make me want to engage in the conversation, so I’ve tried to reflect, what did I like before, and is it different now? I concluded that it is different, and I made an attempt to articulate my observations. I left open the possibility that I’m just hallucinating, and you can call me out on that score.
The second concern is that Issue 6, and the secretive powerbrokers that are backing it, are just lurking in the shadows, when they need to be out in the light of day.
October 10, 2008 at 7:10 am
[…] Buckeye RINO calls out JMZ on many issues. I diagnose it as Palin Derangement Syndrome. […]
October 10, 2008 at 7:15 am
Let me tell you all something that Lil’ Mama walks it and talks it! Back up off my Sister. She has enough moxie to kick butt in the blogsphere. She brings IT and she ain’t afraid of folks.
I dig that she supports Obama/Biden. Who else would she support? Is she supposed to cut Palin some slack because they both have vjj’s? Palin is a joke (my sentiments) that’s worse than being a criminal…criminals can be redeemed…a bad joke is a bad joke all day and night!
Cut that noise. This Sister is the truth…unabridged. The real uncut funk!
October 10, 2008 at 9:01 am
October 10, 2008 at 9:04 am
Daniel, these two observations are excellent – you are right. But to assume or imply or speculate that either of those observations has to do with someone influencing me to write or not write about something, that is very low, and wrong.
No one has influenced me to write or not write about Issue 6. I wrote about the upcoming issue here and foreshadowed there the fact that I knew I would be juggling my time.
I’m happy to reprise my reasons against casinos and you should also seek out Ed Morrison who wrote for months about that as well. I haven’t noticed whether he’s doing the same this time around or not – I just haven’t had the time and no one has pushed me to make the time, given my past track record on this issue.
But again, to be clear: my sentiments haven’t changed, I do not support Issue 6, neither Progress Ohio or anyone has suggested I write or not write about it. It is a function of life that I haven’t been able to write about education either – but you aren’t questioning that, are you? Or how I haven’t been writing about journalism and media – but you didn’t press about that either.
Ask anyone who has spoken with me in the last several months and you will learn that indeed, I am still writing like I’m talking because pretty much all I talk about are presidential politics and all things related to that.
Not saying that’s great or that it shouldn’t be that way. It’s just the way it is in my life right now.
Why you would suggest anything more ominous seems to be to raise the issue of whether you in fact have been influenced to write this post about me. But I only even write that because it was suggested to me by other people. I would also assume first that you are, as you say, just really bugged by you perceived changes in the blog.
Daniel, I promise – you are not alone in wanting WLST to reclaim some of how some of it has been written. But nothing stays the same and least of all me or my writing.
October 10, 2008 at 9:13 am
Btw, Daniel – here’s some commentary deriving from your post here, which is over at Nixguy now
I never knew Mark was a Jewish, female Democrat who supported Joe Biden since at least 2006, like me. We have so much in common.
Either that, or he just feels free to show how anti-Semitic and misogynistic he is toward me.
L’shana tovah and way to respect other people’s religion you all.
Sigh. Words fail me.
October 10, 2008 at 10:52 am
I must admit I have stayed away from the Presidential Posturing on both sides, one of those dreaded Independents who actually is fed up to the teeth with the whole thing. But Daniel , Jill does write like she talks and writes as she feels ……. if she feels so strongly one way why would you think she has been “influenced” by outside forces…could she just not feel strongly and passionately because she just feels strongly and passionately about her choice. I have never met Jill but from her writings I would say you are off base on this one… just my unbiased opinion 🙂
October 10, 2008 at 11:42 am
Jill writes, “(Mark McNally) just feels free to show how anti-Semitic and misogynistic he is toward me…”
As usual, your full of it Jill. Your hyper-sensitive bar for anti-semitism and misogyny is set far too low. You wouldn’t know it if it hit you while sipping martini’s at the Pepper Pike Country Club. Maybe this is why your blog posting has gone down hill in terms of ethics as well as quality.
I don’t empathize or sympathize with you Jill. You don’t come close writing like I talk and that’s a fact. You’ve been living a life of luxury and privilege Jill, but you want even more (political patronage).
It looks like I am being “allowed to run roughshod” Jill. Whatcha gonna do ’bout it… huh?? You gonna go get your BS Blog bashin’ klan of thugs and unscrupulous attorneys to beat-up on the poor boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks?
Trust me… I can take it… been there, done that. But you don’t like it when I push it right back at ya. Instead, you show that you feel it is OK for you to gang-up with your BS Blog Bashers, but you cry the blues any time anyone says something about you… well, boo hoo Jill… cry me a river… Go get PlunderDUMB Eric to challenge me to a boxing match or some other idiotic buddha belly bully stunt.
October 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm
First of all, Jill is extremely plausible in pointing to constraints on her time. I have apparently barked up the wrong tree. I am sorry for my error. I feel some shame in that regard.
Second, there are others who ought to feel shame that their observations of Jill included denigration of her identity: her gender, heritage, and religion. Those who read my blog regularly know that I don’t play that way. You’ve been outed by your own words.
This blog entry was, first and foremost, a literary critique, like a book review. My critical observations, though genuinely written by me with no outside prodding, were placed below the fold to retain a measure of civility. I thought including the full text on the front page would be a bit too explosive. For those who have chosen to denigrate someone’s identity, I expected better. I had focused on writing, not identity, in my critique. Now I am made to regret that I even opened the door to criticism.
Am I relegated to only offering criticism of Caucasian heterosexual non-religious males in order to keep such vile attacks against identity out of comments posted at my blog? Are only Caucasian heterosexual non-religious males immune from having their identity assailed? I’d like to think that everyone is immune from having their identity assailed, but I see that I’m wrong on that score. I’m angered by the implications of this development, for the impact it will have on the scope of what I write.
Thirdly, I’m suspicious about the relative silence of Ohio’s political blogosphere in shining some light on Issue 6. I’ve posted twice about it, myself. I seek the assistance of other blogs in drawing this issue, and it’s backers, out of the shadows for full scrutiny in the light of day. Issue 6 is wrong on many fronts. It is wrong on a libertarian front that only one entity is permitted to operate a casino. It is wrong on an economic front that the casino siphons money out of the economy. It is wrong on an accountability front, as loopholes in wording mean that there is no guarantee that any of the “positives,” like the tax and employment projections, will be realized even if voters approve the issue. It is wrong on a social front, as an elite few are so greedy that they are seeking to plunder whatever wealth the masses still have. It is wrong on a law enforcement front, as casinos are ideal for laundering money from black market activities. I’ve only scratched the surface. If you are like-minded in regard to the dangers of this gambling proposal, I’d welcome the addition of your warning voice.
October 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm
you’re not barking up the wrong tree… you nailed it on the head. That is why I commented. Don’t underestimate your gut feeling. It was correct.
October 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm
Jill Miller Zimon. Hot, smart, well read, witty, great writer. Did I mention hot!
What’s not to like folks? She’s got a great site and posts every day sometime between being a full time mom, wife, writer, etc.
May she live long and prosper.
October 10, 2008 at 3:04 pm
For the record, I thank Daniel for the rapport we’re able to have here and in emails, esp. when we don’t agree and challenge each other. We’re not going to agree on everything because we don’t in fact agree on everything. But Daniel, I have found you to always be thoughtful or try. And it’s hard, no matter what we say, to do all conversation online. It’s still one-dimensional.
Also, I wanted to re-state here what I wrote Daniel which is that I do not support Issue 6, I never have, I wrote about it in the winter when it first became news and frankly, with 2006 being an off-year, it was really easy to grab onto OLE which was just so appallingly bad. However, I’ve told Daniel that I’m going to go over my 57 reasons against Issue 3/OLE and revive the ones that are not tied directly to the amendment then, but more generally about gambling etc. and work those into WLST between now and Nov. 4th somehow.
I appreciate all the support from commenters here, Daniel, and people who’ve emailed me. A screen is just a screen and we read words on it – but we really can’t presume to know anything about the person typing unless we engage with that person.
October 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm
I’m not getting the same reading of WLST you are, buckeyerino.
Blogs evolve. Writers go through stylistic cycles; their interests change over time; and they make choices about where to put their energy. But as a long time reader of WLST, I can’t say I’ve noticed that its overall zeitgeist has shifted significantly.
Original content is great — and I agree it is increasingly hard to find in blogs, including me own. I do think that in general the blogosphere has become increasingly self-referential, with what you call “recycled” material making more appearances in a shorter amount of time over a wide ranger of venues.
I think social media like twitter is what’s making the blogosphere more self-referential. On any given afternoon, I might have 20 urls tweeted to me that take me to things I want to share with others. Sometimes I retweet them; sometimes I post them on my Facebook page; sometimes they become the kernel of a blog post.
The interesting question to me is why you, buckeyerino, have such clearly-defined expectations for WLST. I have a somewhat different sense of what’s important to WLST than you do, but more crucially, I don’t think I have nearly as many set expectations about ANY of the blogs I read regularly. (Ok, if Techcrunch started posting about jello recipies every day, or LifeHacker stopped posting hacks, I would consider that a breach of basic reader expectations.)
It’s not realistic to expect any political blogger to cover all statewide & local issues in a presidential election year. 2006 was not a presidential election year, so blogs (at least the ones I read) had more time and space to devote to state resolutions.
October 10, 2008 at 3:39 pm
……thank you both. I’ve got more respect for both of you now, even more than what I had before. And that was a lot.
October 10, 2008 at 5:29 pm
What’s funny is that Jill was not the only one against Learn and Earn nor was she alone in being vocal about it on the blogosphere. That very same person has not been as vocal against Issue 6 for a variety of reasons none of which have anything to do with external pressures. Yet, you didn’t write about her or even mention her or question why.
I’d know, since it was me. I can’t disagree that Jill’s blogging has changed, but it could very well be said that mine has too. Learn and Earn was something that she and I were both against, and we took some hits within the Ohio blogosphere for our position on it.
October 10, 2008 at 7:24 pm
October 10, 2008 at 8:00 pm
Daniel, that was a press release, not content written by me, though it did create some discussion, I can’t claim credit for it.
You wrote on Jill’s blog that you didn’t read Glass City back then, or probably Liberal Common Sense which is where my adventures with Learn and Earn began. It was also an issue where many of the bloggers on the left disagreed with me, with the exception of Jill. It was quite a “learning” experience.
October 10, 2008 at 8:11 pm
“I’m against issue 6 beyond the religious aspect of gambling, not just because I am an anti-gambling type person but because if issue 6 were to pass it would prevent our area from ever being able to decide if we as citizens of Lucas County wanted a casino. In a way I probably should support Issue 6 because of that, but I disagree with any type of a ballot issue like this that would take away the right for another part of the state to decide what it wants to do.”
–Lisa Renee of Glass City Jungle
Thanks, Lisa Renee
October 10, 2008 at 8:18 pm
The left should be against Issue 6. Some on the left favored OLE because the proposed tax revenues would have been earmarked for education. The casinos proposed were in blue areas of the state. The unions supported OLE.
Issue 6 did not seek input from the unions. Issue 6 tax revenues aren’t even guaranteed to amount to more than $0, let alone be earmarked for causes traditionally supported by the left. The lone casino is proposed for construction in the reddest part of the state. You can bet there are some Republicans in lofty places that are instrumental in this latest gambling proposal. This latest gambling proposal is not friendly to the left.
October 11, 2008 at 5:59 am
If a left of center blog is not as interesting as it used to be to a RINO, maybe she’s moving right and you’re moving left?
I’m against making gambling any more the poison to life, health and families than it already is.
October 11, 2008 at 11:42 pm
Jill thought I posted to defend her here first but it was really over at Tim Russo’s blog. However, having read this whole thread, I will say this.
Way back over a year ago when I started my own little exercise in mental illness I took a cheap shot at Jill. She could have had my lunch and I would have deserved it. Instead she called me out in a way that allowed me to completely understand her point of view and that I had completely and utterly overreacted.
Even though I have never had the pleasure of meeting her, I think I can count her as a online friend. She has more class than pretty much anyone else I have come in contact with on the blogosphere.
I find WLST to be an erudite and well-reasoned blog, unlike, say mine, where I get off throwing bombs. It’s cheap therapy. The thing is, I think she gets that.
She’s forgotten more about Ohio politics (which bores me to tears frankly, all the important decisions are made in DC IMHO) than I’ll ever re-learn. I pretty much can take to the bank what I read on her blog.
And the PD did her dirt, but that’s to be expected of the PD. All four of the Wide Open Bloggers were screwed in that deal, IMO.
And no, she didn’t buy me lunch to post here. And yes, she has been very busy with family matters lately. Heck I know that feeling.
BTW, I need to read this blog more often. Well done.
February 25, 2009 at 7:04 am
Progress Ohio banned me for re-printing an Amnesty Intl article titled
Amnesty rips IDF for ‘reckless disregard of life’ in Gaza
Or for writing my personal account of corruption in the UFCW union.
So much for progress.
They never told me, just banned my ISP address, with out warning or explanation.
They are in the pocket of labor unions and the Democratic party.
I have been trying to get them to open their books, as all non profits must each tear. No response, and it has been a yea. I and have CC’d every email with PO with the IRS.
I am notifying the IRS again and will now file an official complaint of tax invasion this week.
There is a story for you.
JMZ is, in my opinion, one of the approved bloggers, who is also in the pocket of the Democratic party and Israeli first’ers groups.