Political Blogger Q&A: Joe Powell, Cup of Joe Powell

A new blog's life expectancy is sadly short; it begins with earnest intentions to strike a bold path of self-expression, and usually ends with a death knell of ennui. They die by the thousands each week. But even in this age of tweets, there are old-fashioned blogs worth seeking out—especially local ones. Here are just a few local blogs to bookmark, if you haven't already.

Cup of Joe Powell


Blogger: Joe Powell, 50

Occupation: Freelance writer and producer/director/actor for stage plays.

Blog Started: August 2005

Sample Post:

"Political scientists are going crazy crunching the numbers to uncover the skeleton key to understanding the Republican victory [in the last primary elections]. But the only number that matters is the one demonstrating that by a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—‘civil,' just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie. From this all else follows."

Why did you decide to create Cup of Joe Powell?

I had just gotten the boot from a radio station in Morristown after four-and-a-half years of hosting my own morning talk-radio show, and I still had so much more I wanted to say. With blogging, I had the opportunity to bypass all media owners and could write and say what I wanted, when I wanted, with no one to tell me how to say what I wanted to say. Blogging puts my byline out there for global consumption, not just local, and that's incredibly liberating. All I have to pay is access to the Internet. Also, I had been taking a more active role at the South Knox Bubba blog, and jumped at the chance to run my own show, being quite encouraged by what Randy Neal was doing at SKB (and still does at KnoxViews).

How would you describe its "mission"?

First, it's there to promote me and my writing. Shameless self-promotion! Writing and publishing what I write is what I'm all about. Second, the media today just has too huge gaps in the information it provides, endlessly repeating poorly reported tales of our state and our country. So much information—accurate information—is available to media, but they let it all slide away from them as they seek "stories" just to boost ratings. They seem to have missed the memo that we're all talking and sharing info without them. I try to boost awareness and informed opinion, and I've been fortunate that many area and national news sites have shared what I've written about too. But really, who turns on the TV or radio to know what's going on? We turn to the Internet. Third, I love writing about movies and TV so I write about them often, digging into the history and the future of movies.

My blog isn't about "one thing"—I write about what interests me, what makes me laugh, what inspires me, and hopefully my writing will bring readers back.

How much of your time do you devote to it?

Three or four hours a day minimum. I used to post multiple times a day, but today I'm more prone to ponder on something and investigate ideas before I just fire off a post. I rewrite, reconsider and read quite a bit before I post something. Readers deserve something I've put effort into. I don't want to just repeat some headline making the rounds. However, some days I'll just post a widget of songs I really like, or maybe post a video which impressed me in some way. I don't want my blog to just be one thing, like I said.

Have you gotten any interesting feedback?

Yes, some great feedback from other writers, bloggers, news sites, elected officials, and much more. It's quite inspiring to have discovered and encountered so many smart writers across the country and the world. It's a big, big online world and there are many intelligent voices out there worth listening to. And there are also plenty of bogus ideas I want to help shoot down and call out for being bad for you. It's a little like scratching at an iceberg with a toothpick, but I'm always at it.

Which post has gotten the biggest reaction?

Several posts have generated many responses from newspapers and other news websites over the years. But in all honesty, one post has driven huge amounts of folks to my blog—it was a post I did a few years back expressing my amazement that there was a website called Cats That Look Like Hitler, which I linked to in the post, and it still brings hundreds of new readers every month. I would never have thought that would happen. It's a bit humbling to admit that funny cat stories rule the Internet, but they do.

Do you have any goals for the blog beyond just writing it?

Yes, I'd like to make it something that earns money too! I've made some headway there, but I don't want to fill my page with advertising. I like it better when folks pay me to write for them. Writers seldom make a ton of money, but I didn't become a writer because I thought it would make me rich. I do it because I want to, sometimes because I have to. Tens of thousands of blogs have risen and fallen since 2005. I'm still here. I work to try and do it better every day.