Interview with Liblogs Founder, Jason Cherniak

Interviewed by Greg Farries on Apr 23, 2008

Jason Cherniak is one of the key figures in the Liberal side of the blogosphere in Canada. Jason runs one of the most popular partisan weblogs in Canada, Cherniak on Politics, and is the founder and creator of Liblogs.ca, a partisan blogroll and aggregator consisting of bloggers who support the Liberal Party of Canada.

I recently got a chance to chat with Jason about partisan blogging, Liblogs, and blogging in general.

Greg Farries: When did you start blogging?

Jason Cherniak: January 2005

Greg Farries: Why do you blog?

Jason Cherniak: To promote myself, my issues and the Liberal Party.

Greg Farries: Your biography on your weblog states that you’re a lawyer and a consultant in Richmond Hill and Toronto. How do you find the time to blog regularly and run one of the largest partisan blogroll/aggregators in the country?

Jason Cherniak: I’m self employed, so I can set my own hours. The blogging is actually fun, so I have no trouble doing it in my spare time. The aggregator takes less work than you might expect. Most of the work was in setting it up.

Greg Farries: There are a great number of political blogs in Canada, many of which belong to partisan blogrolls like Liblogs. Many of those bloggers have been successful in breaking news before the main stream media outlets and a few of those bloggers have thousands of readers a day. Do you see this as a growing tread – are partisan bloggers going to have a greater impact on politics in Canada in the near future?

Jason Cherniak: I think we’ve reached somewhat of a plateau. Blogs are being read by media and media are writing blogs. Some bloggers can have a lot of influence, while others are probably just adding to the general noise. I suspect that blogs will stay where they are until the political parties start to use them more effectively, like in the Obama campaign. That is unlikely to happen, though, as long as Canadian political parties are driven by message control.

Greg Farries: There seems to be a dichotomy in the Canadian blogosphere – on one side you have bloggers who choose to remain anonymous — or use a pseudonym — and on the other side you have bloggers, such as yourself, who post under their real name. What is your opinion of those bloggers who choose not to use their real name?

Jason Cherniak: I can understand it. I made a choice to put my name out there and while it has had a lot of benefits, I have also seen some disadvantages. I have no time for people who are anonymous so that they can slag others. However, anonymity is fine for those who have something important to say but cannot risk their jobs.

Greg Farries: Who is the most influential political blogger in Canada?

Jason Cherniak: Warren Kinsella.

Greg Farries: Do you have any tips for someone thinking of starting a political blog?

Jason Cherniak: Despite what you might hear, a blog is not a diary. It is a way to make your opinions public and create an image for yourself. Don’t write anything unless you are willing to see it in the papers the next day. Don’t write anything you don’t want a potential employer to read. Don’t write anything about a person unless you want that person to know that you wrote it. Don’t claim to be a partisan if you are going to slag your own party. Pick your issues and run your blog like you are campaigning for them.

Greg Farries: The Liblogs has grown from a handful of Liberal bloggers, into a thriving community of small and big “L” liberal voters, bloggers and activists. To what would you attribute the success of the Liblogs?

Jason Cherniak: Like any news source, you need to make it easy for people to access information. I think the simple main page with aggregated posts and a list at the side makes Liblogs simple to use. The partisanship makes it easy for people to understand what the organization stand for. The name is catchy and easy to remember. As President, I think that my active volunteering for the Liberal Party has helped Liberals to trust the concept more than they might have otherwise. All of these factors together have helped turn Liblogs into the success it is today.

Greg Farries: What’s next for Jason Cherniak?

Jason Cherniak: I’m moving to Richmond Hill, where I am actively involved in politics. I’m going to base my legal practice there and, otherwise, continue doing what I’m doing.

Greg Farries: What’s next for Liblogs?

Jason Cherniak: We will probably update the main page to have a crisper look. Beyond that, though, I’m hesitant to try to fix something that ain’t broke.