After the 2023 election – our first as an organization – we asked for feedback on how we did with our election coverage and activities. We also asked for more general feedback on the Blog and ways we could expand and improve our work moving forward. 

We received 73 responses (thank you!). We of course cannot know to what extent the respondents reflect our overall readership, much less the community overall, but the feedback is helpful nonetheless. Information about the respondents is shown below. 

Nearly all respondents found the Blog Blog helpful in informing voters about the election

We asked: “Thinking about the November 2023 election in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, how helpful do you believe Triangle Blog Blog was in general about informing voters about the election (candidates, issues, where and when to vote, etc.)?” 

Response options ranged from 1 (not at all helpful) to 5 (extremely helpful). 

Respondents found certain election materials more helpful than others

We also asked respondents how helpful different election resources we created were. The table below shows the percent of respondents that found each resource extremely helpful. 

We were surprised that relatively few people found the interviews with school board candidates helpful, but some comments suggested that some voters were overwhelmed by the number of school board candidates and the volume of information we provided on each. A lesson here is that some voters prefer more accessible and high-level information about candidates. 

This may also help explain why our most helpful election resource was the endorsement flyer, which was a simple matrix showing which candidates were endorsed by key organizations and individuals. 

Respondents ranked Triangle Blog Blog as their most valuable source for election information

We asked respondents to rank how valuable eight sources for election information were to them, including the Blog Blog, the Indy, CHALT, Chapelboro, the Daily Tar Heel, advocacy organizations (e.g. Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, etc.) NEXT, and the candidates themselves.  

While recognizing that most respondents are people inclined to like our work, we were still pleased to see that the Blog Blog was respondents’ most valuable sources for election information. Sixty two percent of respondents ranked us as their top choice, compared to 24 percent who ranked candidates as their most valuable source of election information. 

The Blog Blog was also the “top” second choice for election information among respondents (27 percent), edging out the Indy (25 percent) and the Daily Tar Heel (20 percent). 

The third most valuable sources for election information were the Daily Tar Heel (24 percent of respondents ranked it as their third choice for information) and Chapelboro (23 percent). 

As you might expect, CHALT was regarded as the least useful source of election information, with 67 percent ranking it last among all eight sources. Four percent of respondents ranked CHALT as their top choice for election information but comments they left suggest this is because those people look to CHALT to decide whom NOT to vote for. 

We received a lot of kudos

The Blog Blog has been a labor of love (and an unpaid one at that). It was nice to hear that many people appreciate our work. A few favorites: 

  • “Thank you for giving us 70 & 80 something Civil rights/Vietnam War protestors hope for the future.”
  • “Moved here last year for grad school at UNC and the blog blog has been crucial with helping me get up to speed and staying informed with what’s important in my new community.”
  • “We really appreciate all the work you do to explain the local issues, are impressed with the research and fact-checking you do, and the writing itself is top-notch.”
  • “The impact you had on the recent CH election came at a crucial time and will have a positive impact on the future of CH for years to come. Thank you.”

We received some criticism

A handful of people mentioned our tone. A couple of people think it can be off-putting at times. A couple of people admit to finding us funny but worry that others may not. One person thinks we mock CHALT too much.

As the Blog Blog’s CSO (Chief Snark Officer) – a position I battle Geoff Green for on a daily basis – I acknowledge my contributions to this perception (in my defense, you try growing up gay, intellectually curious, and surrounded by rednecks and see if you don’t end up a bit caustic). On one hand, to the extent that we are now an established player in local politics, I suspect some of the snark will fade because there should be less frustration at our voices not being heard. On the other hand, CHALT is still a thing and Adam Searing is still a council member. All I can say at this point is I hear and am processing the feedback. Stay tuned! 

Finally, we have one hate-reader who regularly emails us and responded to the survey. We appreciate his feedback despite having no idea why he reads us: 

“Your nasty, holier-than-thou, ad hominem, negative ‘reporting’ was quite ‘helpful’ because it helped me decide whom NOT to vote for. Your heads will swell even more from this negative criticism from an old, white male living in a single family zoning district. You are incapable of seeing any point of view other than your own.”

People have lots of great ideas for future coverage 

We asked respondents, “What topics do you wish Triangle Blog Blog would cover that it doesn’t currently, or cover more deeply than it does now?” And they had a lot of great ideas, though some are well beyond our capacity to take on (ask not, dear readers, what your Blog Blog can do for you – ask what you can do for your Blog Blog). A sampling: 

  • More council meeting recaps and how members voted
  • More Orange County coverage, including county commission meetings
  • Aging in place
  • Disability issues
  • Food insecurity 
  • Economic development and downtown revitalization 
  • Real estate news/trends
  • Regular updates on town progress on affordable housing 
  • More detailed comparisons of council members’ policy positions
  • Expansion to Durham and Wake 
  • A “decoder” to help people better understand topics before town council 
  • More interviews with locals
  • Criminal justice issues
  • The impact of OWASA on housing costs
  • Rural buffer implications on housing availability and costs 
  • The conservative takeover of UNC
  • The role the state plays in local government 
  • Socially conscious businesses and local organizations that contribute to or hinder progressive causes
  • Inclusionary zoning
  • Schools, including LEAP and the Chinese Dual Language program 

Please reach out if you want to help us with any of the above: triangleblogblog@gmail.com

Happy 2024!

Stephen Whitlow lives in Chapel Hill. Trained as an urban planner at DCRP, he works for a research, evaluation, and technical assistance firm and focuses on the areas of housing affordability, fair housing,...