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Time Magazine names Powerline’s trio of lawyer-reporters “bloggers of the year,” and the next day the Washington Post announces the purchase of Internet news site “Slate.” What’s next, the acquisition of RealClearPolitics by the Wall Street Journal? That would make huge sense, so don’t rule it out.
What 2004 will be remembered for in the history of journalism is the rise of the blogs –independent citizen journalists working off of websites they update frequently. I have written an entire book on the subject which will be available shortly in bookstores and from Amazon, but the end of year is a good time as any to look back and see clearly that campaign 2004 was deeply impacted by the New Media.
Powerline earned its honor by launching the blog swarm that quickly surrounded and destroyed Dan Rather’s and CBS’ reputation for integrity in reporting after “60 Minutes” ran with a story on George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service built not only on forgeries, but bad forgeries at that.
Even earlier in the election cycle, a huge number of blogs – led by Instapundit with his digital camera – sunk John Kerry’s claim to truthfulness with regard to his war record in Vietnam by exposing his claims of a secret, illegal mission to Cambodia on Christmas Eve in 1968 as a Walter Mittyism.
Before that, the Daily Kos and my own site, HughHewitt.com, had done our best to direct attention and financial support to candidates of the left and right respectively. My folks did a lot better than Kos’ nominees for support, but then again, my folks were part of a Republican tide that ran quite high.
Why the tide? That’s the key question, given that so much of mainstream media, also known as legacy media, did so much to attack and besmirch the president and his campaign.
The answer: The New Media provided completely new channels of information acquisition, from the mighty coast watchers at Free Republic, through talk radio and FoxNews, to the blogs. The appearance of the Old Media monopoly was still in place – they still had the ad rates that a monopoly deserves, and they still pay themselves the crazy salaries, but the audience had either departed or grown so skeptical as to be influenced hardly at all by whatever nonsense Aaron Brown or Peter Jennings was spouting that night.
Very few of the bigs noticed, but people were laughing at them, not with them.
The recognition is settling in now that we live in a new information age. It is the beginning of the democratization of news, and it is a very good time to be working as a writer.