Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bloggers Versus Big Media................

.........Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit got some serious press cred today with an editorial published in todays Wall Street Journal. Aside from being perhaps the single most influential blogger on the map, Mr Reynolds is a law Professor at the University of Tennessee Law School.

His blogging skills may be second to none, and many people wonder just where in the hell he gets time to peruse such a vast swath of media sources. Well, I think the answer is pretty simple-the blogosphere. His list of links is quite expansive, as well as being pretty much across the board in terms of political leanings. A testament to his non-affiliation for either political party is that he is constantly getting berated by conservatives for being to liberal and by liberals for being too conservative. That sounds just about right for me.

Todays column he has in the journal highlights something I have been talking to people about for a while now, and that is the underestimation of the influence of the blogworld within big media, and the public in general.

Mom, if you are reading this one, remember the conversation I had with John (who I didn't like-good riddance) where I stated that the media and others were ignoring the rising influence of blogs at their own peril? Well this is exactly what I was talking about.

An excerpt from the article-

The election coverage from Big Media has been unusually partisan this time around. As Newsweek's Evan Thomas famously remarked: "Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. . . . They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them . . . that's going to be worth maybe 15 points." When he made that remark, many were worried. If the big media all tilted toward one party (which was pretty clearly true) and if their influence was worth 15 points, enough to swing most any presidential election (which was plausible), then the institutional power of big media seemed to be a threat to democracy itself. But it hasn't worked out that way -- or if it has, John Kerry must be an awfully weak candidate to be neck-and-neck with President Bush despite a built-in 15-point advantage.

It's probably some of both. Mr. Kerry, as even many Dems are admitting, is a weak candidate. But the big media advantage doesn't seem to have turned out to be as big as some thought.

That has played hob with the Kerry campaign's strategy. It's been apparent for quite a while that Mr. Kerry's Vietnam record would be a centerpiece of his campaign, and it's also been apparent that he has stretched the truth more than a little where parts of it were concerned. In a Boston Herald piece inspired by "Apocalypse Now," Mr. Kerry wrote: "On more than one occasion, I, like Martin Sheen in 'Apocalypse Now,' took my patrol boat into Cambodia.

"In fact, I remember spending Christmas Day of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese Allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real." Mr. Kerry made similar claims on the Senate floor in 1986, adding that the memory was "seared -- seared -- in me." He also peddled variations on this story during press interviews over the years.

But the story isn't true. And the Kerry campaign eventually admitted that, but only after prodding from the media. Not from the newspapers and TV networks -- which studiously ignored the story for nearly two weeks -- but from blogs and talk radio. Bloggers researched the story on Google, on Factiva and Lexis, and in libraries. Talk-radio hosts, including some like Neal Boortz and Hugh Hewitt who are bloggers themselves, retailed the findings to the wider world. Eventually the Kerry campaign was forced to respond, which then forced the New York Times and the LA Times, grudgingly, to admit that the story existed and to start their own coverage.

Obviously the blog world is not a proffessional form of journalism by any means. But it is a place where people are fact checked religiously, and false bravado and unsubstantiated criticism are quickly refuted. Already, a few bloggers have been able to translate their blogging in to a real job as an actual journalist, and many have been successful at part time columns as well. At the same time, the big media is slowly catching on (if reluctantly) and they are continually adding blogs to supplement their own TV/Cable/Radio/Newspaper entities.

This will truly be the single most blogged presidential campaign in history, and one cannot deny the fact that the influence of the blogworld is unavoidable. To a libertarian independent, there couldn't be any better way.

Power to the People indeed......

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