We’re introducing another new feature here at Good Feed: the Blogger Roundtable. In this space, we’ll be featuring interviews with some of our favorite bloggers. We want to pick their brains, but at the same time, we want to give you guys some insight into what we do every day.
Today we’re featuring Slade Sohmer and his new blog/news site HyperVocal.
Sohmer spent the last seven years working for Lou Dobbs and the last two as the executive producer of the nationally syndicated Lou Dobbs Show. In 2005, Sohmer launched Hidden Track, which became an award-winning music blog. Then, this past August, Sohmer left the Lou Dobbs Show to launch HyperVocal with his partner Lee Brenner, a former CNN and MySpace employee located in Washington, D.C.
HyperVocal is both a news site and a blog network, where Sohmer also has his own blog, Vocal Point. If The Daily Show, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast all had a baby together, it would be HyperVocal.
We talked with with Sohmer about the glitz and glamour of the blogging life.
I finished the Internet one day. I made it all the way to the end. That’s when I decided that if I start my own website, I would never do that again. As long as I had a stake in creating content, I would always have more to read. That, and real journalism’s too hard (my BSJ degree makes a nice coaster, though).
I blog to interact with strangers, to start provocative discussion, to continue important debate, to butt into other people’s affairs. I blog to evoke sympathy, to express outrage, to stoke fear, to elate readers. A good day for me is making people think; a great day for me is making people think, laugh, cry, and then pee. But mostly I blog to tell stories and find the right narrative for an audience. Every piece of news—no matter how minor, dull or straight—has the right to capture your attention. I’m trying to do my part.
I also like to play in snark-infested waters.
How’d you come up with the idea for HyperVocal?
Have you ever been asked “Where do you get your news from?” Every time someone asks me, I’m usually kinda stumped. “Lots of places,” I’ll say unconvincingly. That seems to be the overwhelming response among the so-called Facebook Generation (I also like Generation Wi-Fi). So my partner Lee Brenner, an ex-CNN and MySpace guy, approached me about collaborating on a news and opinion portal, and we came up with this idea for a news site and blog network, specifically for and by our generation. The World Wide Web’s a big place, and sometimes people need Internet Sherpas to curate the best of the web and add original content. We went live on October 12, and the response we’ve gotten over the first two months has been immense.
In the midst the over-saturated blogosphere, what makes your blog unique?
Over-saturated? Sheeet, now you tell me. I thought this Internet was wide open. What makes HyperVocal unique is that we balance straight political, entertainment, sports, and offbeat news with a blog network made up of a diverse, global group of thinkers and social activists who contribute point-of-view pieces within their area of expertise. We’ve got political bloggers and pop-culture bloggers and pop-psychology bloggers and Rock the Vote bloggers and young veteran bloggers and gay Olympian bloggers and libertarian bloggers and change-agent bloggers and sex and sports and drunk and mommy bloggers. Perspectives, we got ’em.
And my own blog, Vocal Point, comes from a unique place. I spent five years in a CNN newsroom, then two-plus years in talk radio’s right-wing echo chamber. I have gallows humor about politics and news. I have no love for the people who run our country, but I rarely have love for the people who complain the loudest about the people who run our country.
Is there a specific post you’re most proud of? Or one that best represents what HyperVocal is all about?
Not necessarily a specific post, but I’m quite proud of the daily morning news roundup I put together called Hype AM (here’s Thursday’s edition). I started HyperVocal to inform as much as entertain, and while I’m obviously pretty biased, I think you could read that every morning and be the wickedsmahtest person at the ol’ office water cooler (that assumes you like talking to your co-workers, of course). It’s a comprehensive look at what’s happening right then, what people are talking about, what they will talk about, and what they should be talking about, from politics to sports to whatever.
If we’re talking original video, I’m pretty proud of the Charlie Rangel–as-LeBron “Rise” redemption parody my team and I created right before the House ethics panel’s verdict. Oh, and I guess I should be proud of this post I wrote about an X-rated strip dance on the Argentinian version of Dancing with the Stars—that’s by far the top-trafficked post on HyperVocal thus far. And just to show you how horned up the Internet is, that strip dance video got about 100 times as much traffic as that awesome Rangel video!
What’s been the biggest challenge in running the blog?
The biggest challenge has to be the delicate balance between quality and quickness. I’m writing thousands of words every day, on a variety of topics, on stories that pop up out of nothing. Sometimes it’s tough to figure out what to just blast out and what to take my time with and really flesh out. Is it more important to get something up first or best? That’s what the Internet’s been trying to figure out for years, and it’s what I’ve been asking the Internet to tell me if it ever figures it out.
Going forward, what goals do you have for HyperVocal?
I want HyperVocal to be the prime source for the vital and viral for 18- to 35-year-olds every morning and throughout the day. I want to establish a real newsroom, cranking out tons of original copy and video every day. I want to be a post-partisan referee to the political horseshit in D.C. and the reactionary bullroar from the inexplicably employed pundits. I want to start speaking in an odd accent like Arianna Huffington. I want to fondle Jon Stewart’s package.
What do you see in the future of blogging as a whole?
One word: Plastics.
Honestly, how do you view our blog? What and who do you think we represent?
I fully endorse the Good Men Project, and I thoroughly enjoy the Good Feed blog (and the tagline is fairly genius). You have your finger on the pulse of what men care about and want. You’re thought-provoking without being over the top, and you’re understanding that it’s not a world filled with Jack Arnold gruff dad types at the dinner table any more. There’s more to manhood than being That Guy. Plus you have a woman writing about modern manhood, which usually makes for good times.