'Some blogger from Louisville'

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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I recently had a brief meeting with an official in state government. After I had left, he went into a meeting and someone asked him whom he was talking with. His response? “Just some blogger from Louisville.”

When it got back to me, I laughed. It’s no skin off my nose if that’s what he thinks.

But then I thought about it some more, and decided it might be worthwhile to explain why Forward Kentucky is more than just “some blogger from Louisville.”

Let’s talk about the team

It’s true that I do a good amount of the work here. But unless you took the time to read all the contributor bios, you might not know that among the Forward Kentucky contributors are:

  • Multiple persons with professional journalism experience, including reporting for the AP and the Miami Herald
  • A former editor of a state-wide magazine
  • Numerous photographers, including one professional photographer with work published in multiple newspapers and magazines
  • A policy expert with an earned doctorate in urban policy, and another contributor with a degree in public policy combined with a career as a data scientist
  • Numerous activists, including the founder of a state-wide public education advocacy group
  • A history professor who is also the author of multiple books on Kentucky history
  • An expert in open-records laws with twenty-five years of experience in the field
  • A writer whose work has appeared in numerous Kentucky publications
  • The 2020 High School Teacher of the Year in Kentucky
  • A professor of communications who writes and teaches on conflict management
  • A lawyer who works in the public defender’s office
  • And our own editorial cartoonist

You also might not know that the Forward Kentucky family includes My Old Kentucky Podcast, which has been called “the essential podcast on Kentucky politics.”

Let’s talk about the connections

There are a number of memberships and connections that are key to understanding Forward Kentucky’s work and content.

  • We are members of the Kentucky Press Association.
  • We are subscribers to the Kentucky Press News Service, which gives us cross-posting rights to stories in that service.
  • We are members of the Society of Professional Journalists.
  • We have cross-posting agreements with numerous other publications, including the American Prospect, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the SCOTUS Blog, the Pew Trusts, ProPublica, and others.
  • Almost all of our content is published in the Newsbreak app and in Apple News.
  • Our podcasts and some of our articles are published in DemCast, a growing national platform.

Let’s talk about a few accomplishments

It’s one thing to put up a bunch of content; it’s another thing to do things that make a difference. Here’s a few things that are worth some notice.

  • 2018 Candidate Profiles – We did individual profiles on all the Democratic candidates in contested seats in 2018, and included all the ways to contact each candidate.
  • The Bill Tracker – We put up bill tracker that anyone could use to track bills in the General Assembly, including the bill’s progress.
  • The Legislator Scorecards – We picked a set of bills to score, then graded all the legislators on how they voted on those bills.
  • Resources Collection – We posted a collections of resources for citizens and activists, including an explainer on the legislative process, a booklet on how to be an effective activist, and a search engine for finding and contacting your legislators.
  • Policy Papers – In addition to news and commentary, we posted a significant collection of policy papers and backgrounders. In 2020, we are going to expand that work into a more usable resource for activists and legislators.

And we’re not done.

My goal when starting Forward Kentucky three years ago (2016) was to eventually grow the work to the point that it was making a difference. As our membership and traffic has grown, I think we are getting closer to that point. And as this article hopefully shows, we are already more than “some blogger from Louisville.”

It is the work of the entire team, and the relationships we have been able to build over these three years, and the members who are supporting us financially, that make it all possible. As all of those things continue to grow in 2020, here’s hoping we can be even more of a force for positive change and growth for our state.

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