View Full Version : Are blogs getting to the news before the news outlets?

27th December 2002, 12:45 AM
It's safe to assume that, before he flushed his reputation down the toilet, Trent Lott had absolutely no idea what a blog was.

He may have a clue now. Internet opinion pages like Instapundit, run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, and Talking Points Memo, from leftie political columnist Josh Marshall -- were among the first to latch on to ABCNews.com's brief item on Lott's racist comments during Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday bash.

And they kept focusing on Lott's hateful past -- until the national press corps finally had to take notice.

"Joshua Marshall, whose talkingpointsmemo.com is must reading for the politically curious, (is) more than anyone else, responsible for making Trent Lott's offensive remarks the issue they deserve to be," noted Paul Krugman in his New York Times column.

In a year when throngs of people joined Marshall and Reynolds -- there are now more than 970,000 registered users of Pyra's popular Blogger software, up from 343,000 a year ago -- Lott's bile is one of several issues that this burgeoning community helped push on to the national agenda.

In May, when pro-Palestinian activists attacked a group of Hillel students at San Francisco State University, the national press took no notice; there was a small mention in the May 12 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, nothing more.

But bloggers -- led by Richmond, Virginia, freelance writer Meryl Yourish -- piled on the story.

Within days, the attack became a nationwide matter. On May 14, blogger James Lileks mentioned it in a nationally syndicated newspaper column for the Newhouse News Service. Five days later, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, all followed suit with their own articles.