Friday, November 12, 2004

The Blogosphere - the next step?

In a future post(s) I will review the role of the blogosphere in helping to shape the Presidential election this year. The blogosphere's role was truly historic - particularly in exposing very specific lies that otherwise would have gone unchallenged. Credit is due particularly to Powerline, Little Green Footballs and a few others that exposed CBS' forged national guard documents. All of us certainly owe these bloggers a debt of gratitude.

Now we must look to the next step to see where the blogosphere is headed and what its role will be in the immediate future.

A foreshadowing of the future seems to be developing at Powerline. The Powerline authors have made numerous MSM appearances in recent weeks, with guest spots on Fox, CNBC and even on NBC's election night coverage. It is clear that Powerline is taking the next step by forcing their way into the "mainstream". Their views have not moderated, but they have reached the point where the MSM can no longer ignore them. Other bloggers have mainstream connections also and will generate mainstream exposure. Many of the rest of us will see similar opportunities and exposure in the future as the "new media" alternative takes root in the minds of the average voter.

The question is, what do we do with this opportunity? How do we handle the mainstream exposure and how does our role change, if any?

Our strength, as bloggers, has been the ability to uncover hidden news and force it into the national spotlight. We can "spread the word" instantaneously among many millions of people, resulting in immediate refocus of the day's mainstream headlines.
For those who are new to this concept, see the Drudge Manifesto. Mainstream network appearances will strengthen this ability, obviously. The danger is that we might lose sight of our original role in the new media.

If one gradually morphs into little more than another conservative commentator, the marginal benefit will be small. Conservatives do not advance their cause very much by having one more George Will on the networks providing commentary. Conservatives (and really all truth starved Americans) definitely CAN make use of a blogger who appears on a network broadcast and uses the podium to spread some scandal that the AP-NYT-CBS-Reuters media cabal have suppressed.

The first approach - morphing into another mainstream conservative commentator - would involve such mundane tasks as predicting White House strategy, interpreting the latest polls, rehashing old arguments with leftist commentators, meaningless panel discussions where nothing new is learned, etc.

The second approach would involve spreading the type of story that Powerline features on its recent posts. The second approach requires presentation of facts and opinions that the mainstream viewer might not have heard before.

Powerline, and by extension, the blogosphere, is at a crossroads. If we slip into the first option - if we are lured by the possibility of being just like George Will - we will waste an opportunity. The bland conservative rehash will provide the mainstream viewers with little they don't already know and will eventually infect and weaken our blogs.

If we choose the second option, we will energize a greater share of the American voters and we may yet enjoy a true rennaissance in the American mass media.

No one would choose option number one on purpose, but it might sneak up on us before we notice as we enjoy the lure of the big media spotlight. But if we remember our roots and stick to our proper role, we will enjoy the fruits of option number two.

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