Pat Rynard announced today that the Iowa Starting Line blog has merged with the Iowa Daily Democrat. Both websites launched in early 2015. Iowa Starting Line will host the new site, with writers from the Iowa Daily Democrat including Rick Smith and Mike Glover providing regular content. Former State Senator Jack Hatch, Charlotte Hubbell, and Tim Urban "will help with financing and guest writing." Rynard commented,
Over a year and a half ago, I launched Starting Line to help Democrats where they were struggling in 2014: online messaging and social media. We have accomplished that goal. During the 2014 campaign, conservatives in Iowa held too big an influence in key campaigns thanks to their online news and social media advantage. Today, progressive outlets are overwhelming the dominant force in Iowa thanks to both our efforts and those of Bleeding Heartland, Blog for Iowa and John Deeth. It’s a complete sea change, and it happened in really just one year.
Many state-based progressive websites have dwindled over the past several years, so the relative health of Iowa’s Democratic-leaning blogosphere provides a welcome contrast. Deeth is the voice of the state’s longest-running Democratic website. Blog for Iowa has also been going for more than a decade and provides a platform for several regular authors. Bleeding Heartland is approaching its tenth anniversary, and while I enjoy writing about Iowa politics nearly every day, I’m proud to run a community site where this year alone, dozens of guest authors have shared their views and knowledge.
Iowa’s newest progressive voice online is Iowa Informer. Gavin Aronsen conceived of the site in part as an alternative news source for the Ames area. He also publishes stories of statewide importance, some of them thoroughly researched. Along with the Fallon Forum, Iowa Informer has become a must-read site for updates on the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline project.
Conservatives still dominate Iowa talk radio, but as Rynard mentioned, Republicans were better positioned to drive the online news agenda two years ago. Most famously, The Iowa Republican blog injected a damaging story about U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley into the mainstream media, with a little help from the Des Moines Register’s chief politics reporter Jennifer Jacobs. But The Iowa Republican has not published new content since May. Its demise has left a hole in the state’s conservative blogosphere.
Shane Vander Hart blogs frequently at Caffeinated Thoughts about national politics as well as Iowa campaigns and state government news. David Chung provides good insight on internal party happenings, but he posts infrequently at Hawkeye GOP. Iowa developments are rarely the focus of talk radio host Steve Deace’s regular columns for the Conservative Review or his widely-read Facebook status updates. The Bean Walker, once a Drudge Report-style aggregator for news about Iowa politics, has been defunct for years.