The ‘Old’ on the ‘New’

The New York Times magazine has an interesting article on political blogging and the bloggers who blog, Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail (free reg. required), focussing on bloggers’ coverage of the US presidential campaigns. With more than a hint of the patronising tone of the “ancient media” that blogging is, for some, a reaction to, the article profiles, in particular, 3 prominent US bloggers – Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, Wonkette’s Ana Marie Cox and Daily Kos’ Markos MoulitsasAs well as details of political fundraising and plotting by Moulitsas and pointing out potential conflicts of interest, which Moulitsas dismisses with “I’m not about to censor myself on any issue”, the NYT article does highlight areas where bloggers have influenced and led the ‘old’ media –

“But at the same time that blogs have moved away from the political center, they have become increasingly influential in the campaigns — James P. Rubin, John Kerry’s foreign-policy adviser, told me, ”They’re the first thing I read when I get up in the morning and the last thing I read at night.” Among the Washington press corps, too, their impact is obvious. Back in 2002, [Josh] Marshall helped stoke the fires licking at Trent Lott’s feet, digging up old interviews that suggested his support for Strom Thurmond’s racial policies went way back; Marshall’s scoops found their way onto The Associated Press wire and the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. Earlier this month, a platoon of right-wing bloggers launched a coordinated assault against CBS News and its memos claiming that President Bush got special treatment in the National Guard; within 24 hours, the bloggers’ obsessive study of typefaces in the 1970’s migrated onto Drudge, then onto Fox News and then onto the networks and the front pages of the country’s leading newspapers.”

But despite those acknowledged achievements (and despite the writer’s dinner-date with Wonkette) that patronizing tone is hard to shake off –

“The news media helped create the modern campaign, and now they seem to be stuck in it. The bloggers, by contrast, adapted quickly. By the time the Republican convention rolled around in August, they had figured something out, staying far, far away from that zoo down at Madison Square Garden. They had begun to work the way news people do at manufactured news events, by sticking together, sharing information, repeating one another’s best lines. They were learning their limitations, and at the same time they were digging around and critiquing and fact-checking and raising money. They still liked posting dirty jokes and goofy Photoshopped pictures of politicians, but they had hope, and more than a few new ideas, and they were determined to make themselves heard.”

Well, at least he manages to avoid mentioning pyjamas.

Meanwhile, academia’s interest in the influence of political blogging is picking up pace, as this recent paper (July 2004) shows – “The Power and Politics of Blogs” (pdf) by Daniel W. Drezner, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago and Henry Farrell, Assistant Professor of Political Science, George Washington University – as Henry Farrell pointed out in the blog he posted this link in, “Be warned – there’s a fair amount of political science jargon in there”.

(BTW Mick, where’s our Photoshopped pics?)