Politics started as a hobby for sophomore Conor Rogers. But it soon became a full-time job opportunity.
Along with a high school friend, Rogers founded The Politicizer, a cross-partisan political blog. The blog, started over the summer, employs six GW students who self-identify as liberals, conservatives and libertarians, and its readership jumped to nearly 70,000 page views in October – a strong start for a new student-run blog.
Rogers, who is a member of the College Republicans and current public relations director for the anti-abortion group GW Colonials for Life, said when he first created the site at the end of the summer to present views from all sides of the political spectrum, he had no idea that an active readership base would soon develop.
“Once the numbers started to pour in during June, I realized this was no longer a side project,” Rogers said. “By the end of June, I had people approaching me to write for the site.”
Unlike most political blogs written for a national audience, The Politicizer is entirely written by college-aged people or recent graduates, many of whom are students at GW or universities like Georgetown, New York and Columbia.
Politicizer has been unafraid to express opposing political themes. The front page of the blog, for example, features a critique of Republican Governor-elect Bob McDonnell’s victory as a “step back for women of Virginia,” an election analysis from the right entitled “Obama-Mania Meets Its Maker,” and reactions after Maine decriminalized marijuana but struck down gay marriage.
Rogers and high school friend Kathleen McCaffrey created the blog to fill a niche left after the last presidential election, Rogers said.
“We decided if we were going to be writing in the so-called ‘era of Obama,’ and that era was all about young people being involved in politics, then that’s what we should engage,” Rogers said. “We went with an across-the-board approach by young people on politics.”
The Politicizer also allows and encourages the authors of blog posts to comment back and forth with readers, a feature used by many readers of the site. One GW writer said this makes him more careful about the claims he makes on the blog. Sophomore Emma Carpenter, a staff writer for The Politicizer who labels herself as a liberal Democrat, recently wrote a post titled “I should have voted for Hillary” that garnered 21 comments.
“With big blogs it’s hard to get through to the author of the post and ask them to clarify what they’ve written or give you a link to something in the story,” said sophomore Alec Jacobs, who is also a staff writer for the blog. “I always comment back, and I have to be more careful about what I say because people are not afraid to call me out.”
Rogers said encouraging comments and debate fit in with the overall goals of the project.
“It’s politics so it gets hot-tempered, but the whole project is about engaging our generation,” Rogers said. “Our generation has comment wars online all the time about all the political stuff under the sun. This is the same idea – people you might not even know commenting on your articles. They get to understand your ideology, your point of view, which is the entire goal of the project.”
Sophomore Cynthia Meyer, also a staff writer for The Politicizer, said part of the blog’s appeal is its presentation of differing viewpoints.
“We have the Rush Limbaugh conservatives, like me, and the European-style liberals – and everywhere in between. And the best part is, we interact with each other,” Meyer said.
Although the blog is managed and written by young people, Rogers said its purpose is not just to garner the attention of young readers, but rather to change the way adults view our generation.
“The goal of the project is to explain to the political junkies and the people out there reading political news that all the mainstream reports about how young people are all liberal is just not true,” Rogers said. “In the election you heard it’s about the Hispanic vote, the black vote and the young vote and I don’t think you can do that with any of those groups. Obviously there’s something going on here that they don’t understand.”