Tuesday, December 30, 2003

McPaper Is On To Us

From Kick the Leftist comes this link to USA Today’s article on blogging:

Freewheeling ‘bloggers’ are rewriting rules of journalism

By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – They used to be known as the boys on the bus: the big-name columnists, network TV producers and reporters for large-circulation newspapers who had the power to make or break a presidential candidate’s reputation. Now they’ve got competition.

In the 2004 election, the boys (and girls) on the bus have been joined by a new class of political arbiters: the geeks on their laptops. They call themselves bloggers. Their mission: to remake political journalism and, quite possibly, democracy itself. The plan: to run an end around big media by becoming publishers on the Internet.

“Geeks on their laptops?” Excuse me? I can still bench press my own weight (210 lbs).

The freewheeling, gossipy Internet sites they operate can be controversial: Matt Drudge, the wired news and gossip hound who broke the story about Monica Lewinsky’s affair with Bill Clinton, is a blogger. Many bloggers are not professional journalists. Few have editors. Most make no pretense of objectivity.

No, we’re just “Fair and Balanced.”

Yet they’re forcing the mainstream news media to follow the stories they’re pushing, such as the scandal that took down Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. And they’ve created a trend that almost every major presidential candidate is following. Even President Bush’s campaign Web site hosts a blog.

Yes, it’s called “Preznit Writes Good Stuff.”

Bloggers get their name from Web logs, a new form of publication on the internet. A blog is a cross between an online diary and a cybermagazine, aggressively updated to draw readers back. Just a few years ago, blogs were relatively rare. Now there are millions. They’re devoted to every topic imaginable, from knitting to dating to homelessness. But those who have had the most impact write about politics.

That’s true. It’s because politics combines knitting, dating, and homelessness…and cats. Don’t forget the cats.

A sampling of political blogs

  • Instapundit.com: Those who keep track say that this site, operated by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, is one of the most popular.
  • AndrewSullivan.com: Sullivan, 40, writes regularly for the Sunday Times (of London) and the New Republic, a magazine he used to edit.
  • TalkingPointsMemo.com: Joshua Micah Marshall, who operates this left-leaning blog, is a Washington-based journalist.
  • DrudgeReport.com: The granddaddy of all blogs, operated by Matt Drudge, was instrumental is breaking the story of President Clinton’s affair with a White House intern.
  • DailyKos.com: Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, 32, began operating this Web site in 2002. It gained such a following among liberals that some candidates have now hired him as their web consultant.
  • RealClearPolitics.com: Tom Bevan, 34, started this conservative-leaning Web site with a college friend in 2000 and added a blog in 2002.
  • Kausfiles.com: Mickey Kaus, 52, worked at the New Republic and Newsweek before starting one of the first political blogs in 1999.
  • Notice how nobody from The Liberal Coalition makes the list? Can we sue?

    No one claims that political bloggers have anywhere near the audience of political reporters, whose work is broadcast on TV or printed on paper. “We’re not USA TODAY yet,” says Eberle, the co-founder of GOPUSA.com, an Internet publication for conservative Republicans.

    No, GOPUSA.com is more like Mein Kampf.com. But wait, here’s the best part:

    Their audience tends to be an elite crowd of political junkies who have almost non-stop access to a computer and large amounts of time to surf the Internet for breaking news. In short: political consultants and journalists.

    That’s what makes political bloggers so powerful, says Jeff Jarvis, an executive with Advance.net, the online branch of Newhouse newspapers and the blogger behind Buzzmachine.com. “It’s influencing influencers.”

    Wow…cool. Okay, you political junkies, listen up! Stop talking among yourselves and get out there and talk to real people! Bookmark this website and read it every day! (Oh, and while you’re at it, could you guys at the New York Times please list the Crossword puzzle on your front page index? I only read it for that, y’know.)

    [Update – 10:54 p.m. to correct an egregious grammatical error – a double negative – in one of my comments. Ouch! Swat me with a copy of Warriner’s.]