Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA graduates start political blog

Three University of Alabama graduates wanted to create a blog or website for the state of Alabama with no bias. With that goal in mind, on Jan. 6, “Sweet Home Politics” was formed.

John Hammontree, Wesley Vaughn and West Honeycutt said they wanted to make a blog like “Sweet Home Politics” because they said the people of Alabama needed a non-biased space for the community to hash out issues. The site is also meant to provide breaking news happening in Montgomery and the state, and to provide accurate, entertaining and insightful commentary.

Hammontree, a May 2010 graduate, is working in San Francisco, Calif., at Text100. After living in multiple cities all over the country following graduating, Hammontree said he wanted to contribute to Alabama’s growth in some way.

“West Honeycutt and I had a conversation a while back about starting a blog that would appeal to both sides by offering up a venue for people to come and offer what we consider to be well-written, well-reasoned opinion,” Hammontree said. “Also, it can hopefully create an environment where as we grow and get a little bigger, we can post news reports and offer credible rumors and things like that.”

Hammontree said the only way to sum up “Sweet Home Politics” is that it is a blog about Alabama politics and policy without the spin of other blogs. It has featured syndicated blogs from Congressman Bradley Byrne and Craig Ford as well as an exclusive post written by John McMillan, the commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.

The blog has had more than 10,000 page views and 6,000 unique views. Its Facebook page has 400 likes, and it has 200 followers on Twitter. Vaughn, a May 2012 graduate, said the response they have received so far is a pleasant surprise.

Vaughn said the blog is different than others because they don’t have personal agendas. He said the opinion pieces might be biased, but they have no other interest but the author’s own.

“West asked John and I randomly last fall if we would be interested in starting some kind of little site just because there’s a need for it, and John and I have a heavy history in writing, so we said ‘Sure. Why not?’” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said they all sat down in December and started contacting potential writers and came up with a strategy for what the site would be.

“We need to come up with a mission statement I guess, but I would say we have a niche for smart analysis and some reporting,” Vaughn said. “A lot of times, we just see that there needs to be better analysis of Alabama politics.”

Vaughn said the site is more progressive than most sites in Alabama but doesn’t swing to the left or right. It is all over the board. Vaughn said between Hammontree, Honeycutt and himself, they are almost over-qualified to launch a website, and that’s why they have had so much success.

“We’re really well–connected, and that helps a lot,” Vaughn said. “West [Honeycutt] has been in Montgomery since he graduated, I believe, so he knows a lot of people in the Capitol. I know a lot of people in Birmingham because I’m involved with Birmingham a lot. John basically knows everyone who’s graduated from Alabama in the past few years, so that helps a lot.”

Honeycutt, a December 2011 graduate, said the success of the blog shows how much of a need there is for such a site. “Sweet Home Politics” is providing a new vehicle for people to provide opinions and have real reporting by eliminating the soft reporting that goes on in many of the larger news outlets in Alabama, Honeycutt said.

“We obviously have a media group and newspapers, but a lot of politicos in Montgomery still feel like they’re soft as far as reporting on state politics,” Honeycutt said. “We are a home for political opinion for both sides of the aisle.”

While the site’s three editors said they have been blown away by the success of their blog and the support of their readers, the site is not making any profit currently. Honeycutt said the blog is a hobby for them right now, but the group is going to start offering advertisements and hopes to expand the site even more.

“Right now, it’s a hobby,” Honeycutt said. “I think the three of us love doing this, and it’s something if we all had the opportunity, we would do it full time, but right now the site isn’t making enough money for us to quit our jobs.”

“Sweet Home Politics” is looking for contributors or letters to the editor for the site. If you want to contribute, send your pieces to [email protected].

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