NEPA Blog Fest draws candidates' attention
Mar 31, 2012 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When Gene Stilp wants to get his message out, he uses his own website, his Twitter account, his Facebook page, and various forms of media.
He also employs "Pignelope."
Pignelope, pronounced like "Penelope," is a large inflatable pig that took up most of the sidewalk outside Rooney's Irish Pub in Pittston on Friday night. Inside, Stilp, who is running in the Democratic primary in the 11th Congressional District, and other political candidates worked the crowd at the NEPA Blog Fest, a twice-annual gathering of area political and non-political bloggers and politicians -- another medium for local political candidates nearing primary elections.
Rooney's was a total blogfest Friday night. New media types exchanged business cards and filled out nametags with blog titles or Twitter handles.
The event started two years ago as a mixer for local bloggers, said co-founder Ben Hoon, who writes the blog Gort 42. This year, the organizers hoped to bring more non-political blogs to the party.
Michelle Davies, who contributes to NEPA Blogs was helping introduce attendees to the people behind the blogs.
For example, Justin Vacula, who writes a blog on philosophy and atheism, met Chris Woronchuk, who is launching justanotherbite.com, a food blog. Vacula recently appeared before the County of Lackawanna Transit Authority to ask the authority to allow advertisements about atheism on its buses. Woronchuk visits local restaurants and checks out the food. He has about 180 pictures of local food on his iPhone.
It's unlikely the two will collaborate, but coming to the event allows individual bloggers to meet like-minded people, Vacula said.
"This is supportive. There are people to meet, and coming here builds bonds. You kind of feel people are behind you, that it's not just something on the Internet," he said.
Plenty of candidates were out, a good turnout for an event with no local elections closely following, said Blog Fest co-founder Joe Valenti, who writes "Pittston Politics."
Bloggers are a big part of mainstream society, said Bill Vinsko, Stilp's opponent in the Democratic primary.
"If all the newspapers were at an event, all the candidates would go. This is the 21st century. Now, we've got this," said Aaron Kaufer, who is running for a state House of Representatives seat in the 120th District. "People check out these websites."
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(Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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