By February 2010 Eli Yokley had grown frustrated with the way Missouri media covered state politics. In his opinion, too many outlets were either missing news that deserved attention or were so biased in their reporting that they could not be trusted. So Yokley decided to launch his own blog to cover what he calls the "broad spectrum of Missouri politics." He was seventeen at the time and living with his parents in Joplin.
Two years later, Yokley is a sophomore at University of Missouri majoring in journalism and political science. And his PoliticMo.com is one of the most influential political news sources in the state, getting linked to from big boys like Politico (from which Yokley derived the name for his site) and recognized by the Washington Post as one of the best political blogs in Missouri.
"I've always been interested in politics," says the nineteen-year-old blogger. "Covering it as a reporter is a great way to get involved."
And, yes, there have been politicians who've been taken aback when meeting Yokley face-to-face.
"I remember meeting Ed Martin (Republican candidate for Congress) for the first time," recalls Yokley. "He was like, 'Wow!' You're a lot younger than I thought."
Yokley, though, sees his age as an advantage. "It's not too often that people in positions of power sit down and talk to people my age," he says. "They need to realize that we're involved. We care about what they're doing."
In addition to the blog, Yokley also sends out a morning newsletter to hundreds of subscribers that digests the news of the day. Working on the blog requires another several hours of work each night. Yokley isn't paid for any of this, either. He considers it a public service.
"Journalism is stressful. It's a lot of hours, a lot of pressure and a lot of anxiety. I'm not sure I want to do it forever," he says. "Hopefully at some point there will be other sites doing what I'm doing. Newspapers and other media will realize that politics doesn't end where their circulation stops."