Monday, December 18, 2006

An Interview with Sy Snyder

We’ve all read about the upcoming sale of PoliticsPA and there are likely to be some changes in the site that I, and many of you, consider as much a part of our mornings as breakfast and the newspaper. To give a look back as well as forward, the site’s anonymous editor, Sy Snyder, took the time to answer a few questions. I’ve mentioned this before but it is relevant to mention again, in the interest of full disclosure, it was at Sy’s suggestion that I started blogging. Our email correspondence has been ongoing for over 4 years and while I have barked at Sy, Sy has always been civil to me. My thanks to Sy for the opportunity to post this interview. I hope my readers enjoy it.

[Update: GrassrootsPA also has an interview with Sy Snyder. Read that interview here.]

In your time as editor of the site what do you think is the most
significant event to have happened in Pennsylvania politics?

I think nailing down one single event over the last five years is impossible. But overall, the gains by Democrats in southeast Pennsylvania is dramatically changing the dynamic of how things happen here. Southeast PA used to be a bastion of moderate Republicans, but that’s changing fast.

What change would you most like to see in the campaign process, both
federal and state?

Politics is fun and artful. I think that severe gerrymandering can distort the process and be bad for public policy, but even worse, it ruins the game. The money doesn’t bother me like it does others. If someone like Frank Ryan wants to spend $545,648 to garner 9,026 votes, good for him.

What change would you most like to see in voter behavior?

I’d like to see more people involved in the process. Young people don’t vote… and they wonder why social security will go broke.

How has use of the Internet changed state politics?

When we launched PoliticsPA in the fall of 2001, we were the only ones out there. Blogs didn’t exist. RSS didn’t exist. Flash ads were too much to handle. We had a dial-up connection. The technology was so primitive. But now, the news cycle has sped up so fast that newspapers are now forced to have their own blogs just to keep up with us. How does this change state politics? Ask any opposition researcher what their #1 tool for releasing the fruits of their labor. Ron Harper, we love you.

On the continuum of enjoying being the all-powerful Oz and being a
little lonely back there behind the curtain, where do you fall most days?

Wasn’t Oz a little lonely?

What are you going to do with yourself now? How long do you plan to
continue being involved with PoliticsPA and what will you do afterwards
(generally or as far as you can say)?

I’m very happy to be working with my new partners Larry Ceisler and David Urban. Over the last five years I have taken PoliticsPA as far as possible without losing my anonymity or sanity. I’ll be involved with PoliticsPA until I’m asked to leave or Patriot News reporter Brett Lieberman finally outs me.

Any regrets?

I should have been tougher on bad reporters. There is one reporter who could double as Worf at a Star Trek convention who still hasn’t gotten what she deserves. I am tough on people who deserve it. I don’t regret any of the shots I’ve taken with perhaps the exception of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission when they unsuccessfully attempted to force us to remove an image from our website until State Representative Mike Veon intervened.

What do you consider your notable successes, other than just the site itself?

It’s rarely noticed, but as a policy, we never attack lower level staffers and operatives. I’m proud to have protected budding talent and helped foster their growth and success, regardless of party.

What did you enjoy most / least about running PoliticsPA?

I enjoy the private correspondence with my readers. There’s something about the anonymity that really lets people open up, and I’m grateful to have been trusted with some serious secrets. On the other hand, PoliticsPA is updated every business day… that’s required me to anonymously log on to a computer in the early morning hours for nearly 1800 consecutive days, occasionally from very public places and once from Europe. (Cal Ripken’s got nothing on me.) We receive about one thousand press releases per month. It’s an important service to post them all, but it can be tedious. Otherwise, this is an absolute pleasure.

You must have a ton of blackmail material squirreled away somewhere.
What are you going to do with it? Is there a memoir in the works?

My secrets will always be secrets. Anything less would be a betrayal of the friendships I value.

Have there been primarily one or two Sys or have a host of people
reading all the emails we’ve been sending over the years?

Despite rumors, there has been virtually no internal turnover behind the curtain. The people you heard from in 2001 are the same today.


Gort said...

Leave it to you to get an interview with Sy. Well Done!

AboveAvgJane said...


Thanks!! I like the interviews. They're fun. And, of course, bagging the Greta Garbo of the state political world had a coolness factor to it. ;)