September 18, 2004

The effect of blogs on the news.

Here's a nice little colloquy about blogging from Tim Russert's CNBC show today:
TIM RUSSERT: You mentioned, Byron, that you think the influence of the internet or the bloggers is a bit overstated, but do you see, in the future of campaign coverage, a role for the internet and for the bloggers and the online writers as opposed to the traditional Washington Post, New York Times, and the major networks?

BYRON YORK: Oh, sure, I think that you're seeing ... first of all, a lot of the blogs are simply rants that just comment on what's in the New York Times or the Washington Post each day, but certainly, in the CBS documents issue, you're seeing people doing their own research or offering up their own personal knowledge about things. That is what makes more of a difference, because we all have opinions and some of them are interesting; most of them aren't. But when you've got facts to offer, which people out there in the blogosphere do have, that's when it begins to affect coverage.

Actually, I could quibble with that. Not all opinions are rants, and at least some bloggers have something to offer in the form of pure opinion. I don't agree that we only become useful if we have otherwise unavailable facts to serve up. And submerged in York's point is the notion that the mainstream news itself is not doing something that ought to be classified in the rant family. I think one thing this CBS episode has taught us is that that is not always the case.

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