THE BLOG

What's the Media Missing? New Site Lets Us Know

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET

Look, I agree that Iraq is the most important issue facing our nation, but find it incredibly interesting that even with the war being the most dominant "real" news story (as opposed to which part of Anna Nicole decomposed today), there are other things that net users are paying close attention to, but the media is not.

For instance, looking at a new website, OpenCongress.org, I see that users are overwhelmingly looking into a new piece of gun legislation sponsored by Republican Cliff Stearns and Democrat Rick Boucher. OpenCongress, besides being the first-ever one stop shop for all information about Members of Congress and legislation, actually tracks what people are looking at, so you get a quick idea of what net users consider important. Very useful for people like me who are having a hard time following the three trillion blogs out there.

Anyway, back to the bill. OpenCongress.org feeds in information from THOMAS with links, saying the bill, HR 861, The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2007, would basically let people who can carry a concealed weapon in one state, carry that same weapon in any other state, unless it's specifically banned. The bill seems to be picking up consponsors pretty quickly, from both sides.

Another quick click from the site shows no surprise. Stearns has gotten $34,000 from the NRA since 1989 (his 10th biggest donor), while Boucher has received almost $60,000 (his 8th biggest donor).

The one thing I am trying to figure out is why people are so interested in this bill, when it hasn't gotten a news story according to the news feed at OpenCongress. It never even got a blog story until people started seeing it as most viewed on OpenCongress, and then started to write on it. Clearly, though, there's a good segment out there that does care about this bill.

The media should pick up on that interest and begin to research this bill and its ramifications. For instance, here's an interesting angle. What precident does this set for gay marriage? If a state has to recognize a gun license it didn't issue, for a gun it doesn't ban, then would states that don't have a same-sex marriage ban have to recognize licenses issued in Massachusetts? Seems that, yes, they would. I'd love to see a reporter ask Cliff Stearns, if he wants to be morally and legally consistent, and endorse the recognition of same-sex marriage licenses in states outside Massachusetts. Somehow, I don't think he will.

Still, maybe it's time the media take a hint from sites like OpenCongress.org - there are some things people care about that the press is completely missing.