February 8, 2007

By Pat Walters
Naughton Fellow

Lots of political blogs run on punditry. One voice, one viewpoint. All text.

AirCongress is a little different.

First of all, it features hardly any original content. No overbearing voice. The site touts itself as the nonpartisan “online voice of Capitol Hill, the one place where people can go to hear and see the latest news of, by and about Congress.”

Instead of text, this blog features audio and video. Like Google News, AirCongress is an aggregator. Instead of pulling together text news reports, it gathers segments from radio, television and, quite often, politicians’ Web sites.

But unlike Google News, which is run by a computer, this site is maintained by a person, a journalist named Danny Glover.

Glover has worked in Washington, D.C., for 15 years. For a time, he wrote for Congressional Quarterly. Currently, he works for National Journal, editing Technology Daily and writing Beltway Blogroll.

For AirCongress, Glover functions strictly as a gatherer. He does not produce any of the audio or video that appears on the site. He collects a lot of it from YouTube, and tries to post 10 times a week. The tenor of the posts ranges from White House official — a press briefing — to grassroots critical — a critique of online campaign video.

Glover says that he would eventually like to produce original content for the site. Now, he just doesn’t have time. He says he generally spends 10 to 15 hours a week working on the site, making most of his posts during evenings and weekends.

Still, Glover has some ideas for expansion. Launch an
online radio show. Ask college students to interview their local
Congressmen on behalf of AirCongress. Hire someone to work on the site with him.

These things cost money. That’s something Glover says he doesn’t have a lot of right now. It’s clear that despite his refreshing approach to covering Washington, Glover faces the same financial
challenges as any other independent blogger.

In the blogosphere, popularity, more than anything else, generates revenue. With the site’s launch a few months behind him, Glover says about 300 people visit AirCongress each week. “It’s a very narrow audience, I think,” Glover says. “The C-SPAN kind of audience.”

Traffic spiked modestly, Glover says, when the site was recommended on the popular blog InstaPundit.

Affiliate ads flank the blog content on AirCongress. They plug hotel rooms, rental cars and books. But Glover says they’ve yet to yield a check. Even though he has decided not to spend any money on marketing the site, Glover expects his audience to expand slowly but consistently. By May, he hopes a thousand people will be coming to the site — and seeing his ads — every week. By November, three to four thousand.

Glover hopes the site will one day make some money. But right now, he says, it’s not about turning a profit. Or even covering costs.

“You have to invest money and you have to invest time to make it work,” Glover says.
“And right now I don’t have a lot of either. It’s a labor of love.”

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
I'm a freelance journalist whose writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines, including The St. Petersburg Times and The New York Times Magazine.I also produce…

More News

Back to News