“We think citizens are often smarter than the government,” TechCrunch’s Greg Ferenstein writes in a post introducing a tool that lets readers suggest changes to legislation.
Suggestions that are voted up by our community will get the most attention of Congressional staffers (which we know are watching our platform).
Members of Congress aren’t just watching TechCrunch, though; they’re posting on it. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wrote about immigration reform on the blog Wednesday. Visas for high-tech workers are a matter of perennial concern to tech firms.
And in February the entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez each wrote a post on the site, engaging each other on immigration reform.
It’s all part of TechCrunch’s CrunchGov project, Ferenstein tells Poynter in an email. “CrunchGov aims to the be civic voice of innovators and influential policymakers who want to advance innovation-related laws,” he writes. “Like most media outlets, we are happy to have an exclusive with a sought-after Senator with a unique perspective.”
Rubio’s office contacted TechCrunch “through our generic tipline and told me that someone had told them CrunchGov was a place to reach an important audience,” Ferenstein writes.
Last year, TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Tsotsis told me she hates when tech writers try to, as she put it “emulate old media on a new media news cycle.” I asked Ferenstein why TechCrunch agreed to publish a politician’s opinion piece, a very old-media sort of thing to do.
“We’re experimenting,” he replied. “Sometimes we’ll do traditional op-eds or fireside chats, such as one with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, which made headlines around the U.S. for announcing the investigation of cellphone unlocking laws.”
I’m a huge fan of debates and we’re toying with new ways of doing them. So long as information is dense, has an opinion, and is unique, I’m pretty much open to anything.