PITTSTON — Scores of area bloggers, blog lovers and politicos converged on a downtown bar Friday night for the Spring 2013 BlogFest.
What’s a blog, someone who’s not very Internet-savvy might ask?
A blog, said blogger Ben Hoon between greeting people as they arrived at Rooney’s Irish Rub, is a web log (or weblog) — someone’s personal log that they write and post on a website.
“It’s just a random journal of local politics and whatever comes to mind,” said Hoon, who writes a political blog under the name “Gort42” at blogspot.com.
Actually, a blog doesn’t have to be political, although many are. There are cooking blogs, blogs about TV shows, and just blogs about the authors’ personal experiences.
But according to dailyblogtips.com, all blogs have a few things in common: Content appears on the website chronologically and is updated regularly; readers can leave comments; the author is notified when another blogger posts a link to his/her blog; and a list of a blog’s headlines and updates can be easily distributed through an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed.
Hoon, 52, of Plains Township, blogs because of his interest in politics. “It’s kind of a hobby. I have something to say, so I put it out there.”
Joe Valenti, 50, of West Pittston, used to write a political column for The Sunday Dispatch but said he grew frustrated by having a limit on the length of his column and having to follow certain editorial guidelines.
“I wanted to expand my column to the blogosphere, so I decided to start Pittston Politics,” Valenti said. “Anybody can do a national blog. It’s easy. What we do here … to find out the beat on the street, what’s going on on the local school board, to blog about it on a weekly basis, it’s quite a task. … And you’ve got to keep it all above-board or you lose your credibility.
“Many of the stories that are run on blogs get picked up by newspapers and TV stations,” Valenti said. “The stuff I do is deep-down, behind-the-scenes politics. I know what’s going on in the back room. I know who’s getting hired, when they’re getting hired. My readers are addicted, they need a political fix.”
Pre-election season, Valenti says he gets about 10,000 hits per week on PittstonPolitics.com, and they jump to 15,000 to 20,000 during election season.
And people running for political office recognize the following some bloggers have. Several candidates in the Pittston district judge race stopped by to rub elbows with guests, as did some county-level candidates.
Pub owner Gene Rooney, who’s running for Pittston mayor, said he’d be there even if he didn’t own the place. He said he hopes meeting and greeting people and talking a bit about his “open administration/getting into the neighborhoods” platform will garner him more votes in May.
Statewide candidates were there too, including two Democrat candidates for lieutenant governor — Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski and Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith.
Smith said he and his campaign staff follow political blogs written around the state, including those in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He came to BlogFest “to meet some new folks and … introduce myself.”
Koplinski said Friday was his first visit to BlogFest, calling it “the premiere event for grass-roots organizing through social media. We’ve heard about this event for years. … It’s an impressive gathering of the people who drive social media through blogs in this entire region. … And we’ve got people from not just NEPA, but … candidates running for statewide office. This is a happening, this is an event, no doubt about it.”