For those of you who follow all of this writer's essays, you may have wondered why we might be up on one foot and spinning.
Google Alerts, which many political writers use these days to keep up with their targets is an erratic alert system. I regret that it is not more useful.
The system limits itself to one item per publication per cycle of alert. When the Colorado Springs Independent published its long article on Mark Udall, it made the mistake of publishing an editor's teaser article. Google alerts picked up the tease but not the article itself which wasn't useful except to alert us that the article existed.
Even less useful was the Independent's failure to make its easy to find the story from the teaser. We weren't even sure that the Independent had put it on line. We planned to drive downtown to pick up a copy so that we could do an internet search or do it the hard way, with quotes. Someone emailed us the article before we could waste the gas.
If it was that hard for us to find the article, we thought it might be equally hard for others to find it.
Thursday and Friday we tried to call attention to it through Google. That was the real motivation behind the Bob Schaffer as a drug user essay. Google uses human intervention to do the alerts and we thought their lower level operatives might be editing out stories about Mark Udall's little problem. We thought they might accidentally promote a negative story about Bob Schaffer without realizing it was really about Mark Udall.
Even that didn't work.
One of the things that we have learned about Google alerts is that it tends to ignore the first mention of the target and pick up the second or third mention. That is part of the reason it is less useful than it might be. If there isn't a second or third mention, it ignores the essay. There is a solution: Stand on one foot and spin by repeating the same or similar information naming the target several times.
So, that is what we did. It worked. Google put an alert out on that essay within an hour.
Now that the issue has made Google Alerts, the big boys cannot claim that they don't know about Mark Udall's escapade. We will see what they can do with it.