Thursday, May 3, 2007

Political Nexus spends "10 Minutes With..." Brian Keeler (NYBri)

We are very excited to announce the start of our third regular show, "10 Minutes With...", where we spend 10 minutes getting to know a bit more about some of the biggest and brightest voices in the progressive political blogosphere.

Our initial show features Brian Keeler (NYBri), who is a blog hero of the left. Brian has started not one, not two but three community blogs, including Political Nexus co-founder ePluribus Media, as well as The Albany Project (which is focused on New York politics).

Brian also ran for state Senate in 2006 - making him the first true member of the blogosphere to run for major political office.

For podcasting or download:



NYBri said...

Thanks, Clammyc.

It was fun.

EyeBox said...

When are you going to post the transcript?

clammyc said...


ClammyC: Welcome to 10 Minutes With, featuring short interviews with some of the most interesting voices in politics. My guest tonight is Brian Keeler, also known as NYBRI, who in addition to being one the nicest guys I know, is a blog hero to those of us on the left. Little bit about B, he has started not 1 not 2 but 3 comm blogs, including political-nexus cofounder E Pl Media, as well the Albany Project, which is obviously focused on New Y pols. Brian also ran for NY State Senate in 2006, making him the first true member of the blogosphere to run for major political office. Welcome to the show, Brian.

NYBri: Thanks Adam, I appreciate it.

ClammyC: Brian, With all of these things that have been going on, I joke around and say that you’re kind of a blog hero to the left, but in all honestly you’ve probably have contributed more from the net roots than many, many people; and what I want to talk about first, obvious, was the run for state senate that you had last year. I had gone to some of your events, and saw the buzz going around, and saw some of the things that were going on behind the scenes. And I just wanted to kind of see what you felt were some good experiences, takeaways, lessons learned, and maybe some advice for some of those who are considering running in 2008.

NYBri: Well, the change from being a blogger and being an online activist to actually deciding to run, it was certainly -- the fact that my blogging and my activism was certainly what pushed me to decide to run. And I was coming from a completely na├»ve point of view. I had a concept of what it would entail to run for office but, not unlike a good activist and blogger, I thought, “well, if I have the right ideas, and I can get out there and talk to enough people, well I’ll win this thing.” But running for office takes a whole lot more than just great ideas and great message and great framing, thank you Jeffrey Feldman. But, it takes a tremendous amount of organization, it takes a tremendous amount of fundraising, and it takes a tremendous amount of time, and I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started. It was a life-changing experience, I must say, and anyone who thinks about getting into it, be ready to sacrifice your life for about ten months, because that’s what you’re going to be doing. A friend of mine told me, “it’s really interesting when you run for office, it becomes the most important thing to you in your life, but really, most of the people you run into really don’t care that much at all.” (Laugh)

ClammyC: (Laugh) It’s interesting, because, you know, I had seen how things were running at some of the fundraisers, blograisers and events, and certainly there was a tremendous buzz, and looking at it from somebody who was part of the net roots but not part of the political process, it seemed like the energy that you wanted to spend on running a successful campaign on the issues, and we saw the effort that was put into the issues – you made mention to me at one point about, you know, always having your hand out, and always thinking that you have to put your hand out. Do you think that was more of a hinder [sic] to the process than you thought, or did you think that it may not have been as big of an issue it was just maybe overwhelming.

NYBri: No, it really is. It is the main thing that’s wrong with our political process, which is why I’m for clean money, clean elections. I ran on it, I was pushing it, and we’re still pushing it with the Albany Project. We need to get public financing of elections, because when you’re spending so much of your time just raising money, so you can get the word out, it really takes away from going out and meeting people, and coming up with issues, and doing the things you should be doing in a Campaign. I’ll give you an example. Because raising money became so important, when you found someone who could potentially give you two thousand, three thousand, four, five six thousand dollars to your campaign, you would spend an inordinate amount of time and attention trying to get those people to do that rather than going out and meeting 15, 20, 30, 40 people that could give you maybe twenty bucks, or fifty bucks, and I always thought that that was wrong, and it gave people with money and were willing to spend it and donate it so much more power in the elective process than they should have.

ClammyC: You know, it’s interesting you say that. I do consulting for a living, and one of the things I always said was ‘it’s much easier to sell ten $10,000 engagements to clients than to sell the one $100,000 engagement, and I think you take that and you kind of break it down to the same thing in terms of meeting people and the bang for your buck.

NYBri: Well that’s why we did so much on the internet, because we were the first ones to do a blograiser, which is a live event that’s live-blogged so people around the country, and we would raise ten, fifteen thousand dollars at these events by having hundreds of people around the country donating fifty, a hundred dollars. And actually, my opponent, who was a 26-year incumbent, raised $500,000 and he had 135 individuals donate money to his campaign. We raised $100,000 for our state senate campaign, and we had over a thousand people give to our campaign. Actually, that was one of things I was most proud of, was the breadth of the people who donated and supported us, rather than just the special interest and the big money people.

ClammyC: Well, I’ll say this. It was, you know, from someone who was a little bit a part of that for the last few months, it was certainly very exciting from my perspective, and , you mention some of the things you’re doing at Albany project and, just to give other listeners a background, the Albany Project was something that was started very recently, and kinds of complements the way that things are going with respect to local and regional blogs, and you and one other fellow, ah, Philip Anderson -?Libris?, had started this up as a my to track NY Politics, and I know that there were some early successes, one with the special election and the buzz that was going on there, but, what are your thoughts on how it’s been going, and where you want to take it, and your thoughts so far?

NYBri: Well, it started actually the day after the election. We were so morose the day after the election, and Philip worked on my campaign, and he was staying up at my house, actually, and he was up in my living room and I was downstairs in my office, and we both started blogs the next day about reforming NY state government, and then we wqlked upstairs and talked to each other and said, “Well, this is stupid, let’s make it one blog.”

(ClammyC laughs)

NYBri: I also want to give a nod out to my campaign manager, ?Audrey Malsky, CossackAM?, she was also involved in the building of this, as well. Yeah, we’ve had some early successes with Albany Project, but let’s look at the meta, let’s look at the big picture. Matt Stoller, a lot of people, My DD, and look on BlogPack - a lot of people are beginning to understand the importance of state blog in the elective process. I just had a meeting with Brad Miller not long ago, a congressman from North Carolina, and he is definitely into all of the state blogs down there, and I think that in the next cycle, that is going to be an important part of how local people get the word out about specific candidates, congressional candidates, state senate candidates, house and assemblymen, and I think it’s going to be, I think it’s a huge movement in the next two or three, four year, you’re going to be seeing a lot more from local blogs dealing with more parochial issues rather than the big national blog. I mean, we all have big orange, and other blogs that take care of the national picture, but more focus is coming onto the local scene.

ClammyC: Yeah, I would stress that as well. I do a lot of work with the folks over at BlueJersey, and I know that there was a push to try and link some kind of, you know, linking between Albany Project and BlueJersey and My Left Nutmeg up in Connecticut, because it makes sense to tackle regional issues as well. And I think that you’ve got the whole community blog aspect taking it down to the local level, and you’re generating buzz, you have local news and local politics, and that kind of leads me into the last thing I want to talk about. We’ve got about a minute and a half to go.

NYBri: Sure

ClammyC: But one of the other things that you were responsible for helping out with was E Pluribus Media.

NYBri: Right

ClammyC: And I do a lot of work with them now, and I’m just very, very impressed with how they run their shop and what they’re all about and I’m wondering – just tell me a little bit about your thoughts on what it was like going in, and where it’s been going, and that kind of thing.

NYBri: Well, E Pluribus started with the Jeff Gannon story, in February of 2005. SusanG wrote an article, a diary up on DailyKos, and got incredible response and people wanting to investigate the story. And I looked at it not as a story, but like, “My gosh, we should be doing this, we can do this ourselves!” And it really was the first time that, I believe, from a community blog standpoint, we’ve started to tackle the problem of having massive investigative community journalism organizations begin, and we just started, and, ah, we grew really quickly. We did everything, we incorporated, we had a PR department, a writing department, an editorial department, we got away from DailyKos as our home base, we created our own website, and as I think you know, it’s pretty much grown now to be one of the more established community journalism organizations. I couldn’t be more pleased with the direction it’s gone in. It’s ended up being something a little different than we first visualized. We thought it was going to be a news, a virtual citizen journalism newsroom, that dealt mainly with breaking news stories, but, because everyone has different jobs, and because of the amount of investigation that went into these stories, it’s turned into more of a journal, more of an in-depth investigative reporting, rather than a breaking news source, as well, so I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, and I think the future for E Pluribus is very bright. I bet you, I think that, in the going to the Columbia school of Journalism’s advanced Sulzberger school to identify areas which to grow and how to become a more complete media organization, so I’m real pleased with how that’s all worked out.

ClammyC: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, there are two of them that are doing that, and I’ve written a number of articles for their journal, and the amount of research, and the quality of research that goes into these articles is really amazing, the fact-checking and so on, and….

NYBri: That was very important. We set a standard early on that it couldn’t be double-checked, it had to be triple-checked, and we had some amazing fact-checkers. And I’ve written a couple of stories that I would come out, and I would have two incredible, great sources for a piece of my piece, and I would get it back saying, “I’m sorry, where’s the third?”

ClammyC laughs

NYBri: We superseded what the regular press, what the MSM did for their own standards.

ClammyC: It’s really phenomenal, and actually, for my purposes, it’s helped me out immensely in my writing and my research and I think that they’re great, and they’ve been good enough to help us get our start here at Politcal Nexus. But anyway, that’s our time for now. I wanted to thank you so much, Brian, for coming onto the show.

NYBri: Thank you, Adam, I appreciate it.

ClammyC: Absolutely, and you can find this and other interviews featuring bloggers, activists, and more, over at our site, Or, you could visit our BlogTalk Radio page here at\10minswith. Thanks, and have a great day.