John Campbell
John Campbell

Congressman Campbell, The Excellent Blogger

If you're able to stomach the bitchy bitching about Obama, Congressman John Cambpell's "laptop reports" to constituents are actually pretty good reads. Why? He has figured out what makes great bloggers great: gimmicks!

This latest bend-over-backwards-to-be-clever narrative structure:

Three Liners: OK, so 'one-liner' is the term we all know and are accustomed to hearing, well I can't tell you much in one line, but here's a group of three-liners on various subjects which may give you some information you didn't know

He then goes on to expound on topics as diverse as "Guantanamo" and "Robots." Each entry gets three run-on sentences. There are some juicy tidbits in these things. Did you know that the House of Reps cafeteria has gotten more expensive ever since Democrats took over? Now you do!

Even better infotainment came from the previous two editions of Campbell's email blasts.

His April 27 missive asked readers to vote on controversial topics facing congress, and the results were published in the subsequent report on May 4. In the journalism biz, we call this "user-generated content," "crowdsourcing," or "filling column inches without hiring more reporters." (You may have noticed the Register's mastery of this technique.)

The most interesting question to Cambpell followers  was about waterboarding. Campbell wrote up a 350-word question alluding to a Jack Bauer-esque scenario in which a detainee  could possibly avert another 9/11 if only America had the fortitude to dunk the guy in some h2o. He mentioned reports that waterboarding had been shown to be effective -- reports called into serious question by recent admissions by FBI agents. But the reader quiz was sent out weeks ago, and so the results came back and showed a landslide: 77.58% of respondents said waterboarding was justified.

What audience-engaging device does Campbell have waiting for us next? He tells us:

Next week's Laptop Report will give you the opportunity to vote on every bill I vote on that week. I'm going to skip the arcane procedural votes because they often require understanding of all the rules which is not a skill set that any of you probably want to have.

So, it's the ole "you play the congressman/principal/journalist/truck driver" trick. This is sure to get the man a Webby.


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