Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blog This, Geebus

A Key Moment In The History Of Blogging?
March 17, 2007 -- 10:02 AM EST

I'm linking to this piece in the Los Angeles Times not just because it lavishes well-deserved praise on Josh, Paul and the increasingly far-flung TPM Empire, but also because it gets at a point that I've flogged on and off since this blog was born nearly a year ago.

That point is this: For all its flaws, the blogosphere is increasingly home to real live journalism, and it's only a matter of time until folks at the big news orgs accept this fact -- indeed, they'd be doing themselves a favor if they accepted it sooner rather than later.

From the LAT:

It's 20 or so blocks up town to the heart of the media establishment, the Midtown towers that house the big newspaper, magazine and book publishers. And yet it was here in a neighborhood of bodegas and floral wholesalers that, over the last two months, one of the biggest news stories in the country — the Bush administration's firing of a group of U.S. attorneys — was pieced together by the reporters of the blog Talking Points Memo.

The bloggers used the usual tools of good journalists everywhere — determination, insight, ingenuity — plus a powerful new force that was not available to reporters until blogging came along: the ability to communicate almost instantaneously with readers via the Internet and to deputize those readers as editorial researchers, in effect multiplying the reporting power by an order of magnitude...

The blogs that have captured the most attention are those that devote themselves mainly to politics and public affairs. These are almost always run by partisans of one side or the other. In that, they are nearly the opposite of the sort of coverage presented in traditional media, whose coverage at least attempts to be neutral on questions of policy.

This neutrality is a favorite target of bloggers who say that mainstream journalism objectivity disguises hidden biases of the form, if not the writer. The bloggers contend that these biases can render neutrality into bland, even neutered reporting that rewards those intent on manipulating it.

This is a key passage, and not just because I've spent a fair amount of time stepping over plants and flowers to get to TPM World Headquarters in the heart of the floral district. This is as fair a statement -- for now, anyway -- as we're likely to get in a big newspaper about the enterprise we've all agreed to call "blogging." And it gets at two points. First, the more obvious one: Blogging isn't just a challenge to journalism, it's a new kind of journalism which -- while it has tons and tons of work to do -- is starting to boast successes that are compelling practitioners of the older form to recognize its legitimacy.

More broadly -- and lest you dismiss this as overly self-hyping, keep in mind that this blog and its author had no significant role in the Attorney Purge coverage -- it's not outlandish to suppose that we'll look back at the Attorney Purge story as another key moment in the history of blogging. Perhaps we'll see it as a moment at which the perceptions of the blogosphere harbored by many professional journalists underwent another fundamental shift -- even a transformative one.

-- Greg Sargent

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