JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi-based businessman Alan Lange loves politics–so much so that he launched a website in his spare time to cover the 2004 mayoral election in his hometown of Jackson, Miss. His reasoning was simple: “I wanted to cover [the race] in a way that hadn’t been done before.” His method was to create a centralized place for information about the race, consisting of both aggregated news items and original documents.
- Read more about Y’all Politics
But when the race ended, Lange’s interest in running a political news site did not end with it. He expanded the site’s scope to include politics throughout the state of Mississippi, organizing the coverage under the URL Mississippipolitics.com. Seeking a simpler domain name, Lange switched to the brief yet folksy yallpolitics.com in 2007.
Y’all Politics functions primarily as an aggregator, featuring news on all things politics for the Magnolia State. The site will feature excerpts from sources ranging from the New York Post to small-town newspapers like The Picayune Item, and items of interest range from editorials and press releases to court depositions, government documents, video clips, and so on.
When discussing the site, Lange explains, “Two things that are really our hallmarks are a distinct preference for first source information, and then the consistency and focus. Its not a Drudge Report, we really are a thirty-thousand post living, breathing archive for Mississippi political history for the last seven years. Every post and every story is searchable.”
Lange says that his philosophy is simple: provide as much “first-source information”–such as press releases or court documents–as possible and let the readers decide what to take away from it. This is often the case, but the site does indulge in partisan framing of the items it aggregates. For example, searching the Y’all Politics archive for the term “Obamacare” yields eighty-six results as of the posting of this article, most of which are not opinion columns.
Of the site’s opinion columns, Lange explains: “The opinion is decidedly conservative and the audience is decidedly conservative, but we really do view ourselves–we’re drawing from all across the political spectrum.”
The Dickie Scruggs case, in which trial lawyer Scruggs was convicted of attempting to bribe Mississippi Third Circuit Court Judge Henry L. Lackey, served as the source material for Y’all Politics magnum opus. During the trial, the site became an extensive information hub on any and everything pertaining to the case, as well as a go-to source for many citizens and media outlets. Lange explains the site’s popularity during the Scruggs scandal by stating, “It was just focus. We were the ones who brought it all together… the story moved way too fast for traditional media to keep up with.” (The site’s interest in the Scruggs case was so extensive that Lange eventually teamed up with Tom Dawson, the assistant US attorney who was the lead prosecutor of the initial case against Scruggs, to write a book on the scandal, Kings of Tort.)
In addition to Lange, who handles the site’s business affairs, Y’all Politics enlists the help of an unpaid college intern who is in charge of keeping the site updated on a daily basis. Recently, Lange has decided to scale back his involvement with the site, and is in the process of passing the reigns to Frank Corder, a Republican city councilman for Pascagoula, Miss. and the man behind FireMcCoy.com, a website devoted to attacking then-speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, Billy McCoy. McCoy opted not to run for reelection, freeing up Corder to work on a new project. In choosing his heir, Lange explains, “He was feeding the beast every day and our world view was similar.”
Lange is a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” his main business being a recruiting firm for accounting and law firms. Y’all Politics, though, was never intended to be a profitable venture.
“I’d say over the years it’s lost money, and that’s fine–it wasn’t designed to make money in the first place so that’s not a battle we choose to fight,” he says. The site only recently began selling political ads “really at the request of people who wanted to advertise.”
Lange says he continues to put time and money into Y’all Politics because “I like politics like NASCAR fans like NASCAR races–I like the horse race aspect of it, and Y’all Politics is my pit pass.”
The site’s longevity seems assured despite it’s lack of profits. “It’s not my only money-losing diversion,” Lange says. “But I think it is my favorite.”
Y’all Politics Data
Name: Y’all Politics
City: JacksonAlex Fekula is a contributor to CJR.