Friday, March 11, 2005

Blogs with Local Influence

Noted London-based but Kentucky-bred blogger TJ Linzy just forwarded an article from The New Republic that explores the local political influence of bloggers. What the bloggers did for Thune against Daschle in terms of calling the local biased paper to account we hope to do here in future elections. Here is the link to the article (you may have to register to see it at TNR), and the first bit of the article is pasted below:

In late January, Republican members of Congress convened at a rural West Virginia resort to plot strategy for the new congressional session and the 2006 midterm elections. They held meetings, on issues like Social Security and tax reform, led by committee chairmen and even the president himself. But no session generated as much interest as the one led by a mere freshman, John Thune of South Dakota. It's rare for such a junior senator to lecture his wizened colleagues. But Thune's elders listened with rapt attention as he explained how bloggers and partisan Internet "journalism" helped him defeat former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle last fall. David Winston, a GOP pollster who was present, says that, "given that success story, the senators were very interested.... A lot of conversation went back and forth. I think we were scheduled for about an hour, and it went an hour and a half." Even senators who missed out on the session have been asking for details of Thune's story. "Other senators have asked him in private how he worked with the bloggers," says Thune spokesman Alex Conant.
The surging influence bloggers and partisan Internet journalists are exerting over national media is hardly a secret. Just ask Trent Lott, Dan Rather, or former CNN executive Eason Jordan. But what Thune was trying to explain to his colleagues was something less well-understood: the influence bloggers can wield over the local media, which largely shape and referee House and Senate races. As it happens, a key player in the Thune-Daschle race was the now-notorious Jeff Gannon (née Guckert), the conservative Talon News correspondent with a thing for dog tags and big muscles. Yet Gannon's role is less important than the larger implications--which Republicans seem to be grasping faster than Democrats--blogs have for the coming 2006 congressional elections.