Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Josh Marshall and the Uses of Blogging

I've been reading Joshua Marshall's Talking Points Memo since Paul Krugman put his url in a column in The New York Times. That's been two years ago now. Talking Points Memo gets high marks from me primarily because of Marshall's special attention to credibility and getting his facts straight. But what has been truly fascinating is the chance to watch a new kind of journalism slowly take form.

Talking Points Memo, along with its various offshoots, is one of the most successful enterprises in the blogosphere and doesn't need more publicity but here's a post today that explains some issues about blogging and some developments at Talking Points Memo concerning Marshall's latest rollout, The Daily Muck:

So, that's our team. Justin and Paul. I'll be general editor in the background, with Kate Cambor as Managing Editor.

We plan to get underway next week. The Daily Muck and these Advance Copy posts we're doing here will all be rolled into the new site, along with our Document Collection, a collection of bios of all the major scandals players and a bunch else. We won't be launching with any fanfare or announcement or glitz. If all goes according to plan, we'll just start rounding up the corruption news of the day and breaking stories.

Now, one other point I'd like to make. I had the idea to start this new site for a few different reasons. One was that I'd like to have a site like this that I could read. Another was that I've been increasingly interested in blogs as a hybrid form of journalism.

But the most immediate reason is this: Most of the stuff I come up with on TPM starts with readers -- tips, insights that shed new light on already reported stories, pointers to articles, scuttlebutt that a little reporting can turn into hard news. I've discussed this before on the site. But the stream of emails we get into the site everyday is a resource of simply inestimable value -- something journalists with conventional publications just don't have access to. But as the site has grown, the volume of tips and leads has grown. But my ability to run them down has remained pretty static. So lots of good leads and stories just go unpursued.

But I figured that with a couple hungry reporters who could devote themselves to doing this full-time and a few interns to help them, we could bust open a lot more stories, make more trouble and just have a lot more fun. So that's what we're going to try to do.

From you, here's what we need. Keep the tips coming.
There's one phrase by Marshall I'd like to talk about for a moment. He says, "I had the idea to start this new site for a few different reasons. One was that I'd like to have a site like this that I could read." That's actually good advice for any blogger. What is it you're hungry to read? A lot of us got involved on message boards long before we started commenting on blogs and then starting our own blogs; one of the primary motives is that tens of thousands of us felt the Bush Administration wasn't being straight with us and the press didn't seem to be doing its job. So people were scouring the Internet for news sources in the United States as well as all over the world. I can't remember how many times others told me to check the BBC, The Guardian and the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau and I turned around, did my own checking and passed on what I saw.

I value very much some of the specialty sites like Today in Iraq, Democracy Arsenal, and The Oil Drum. And I value those whose background helps bring high quality blogging like international issues reporter Laura Rozen of War and Piece and lawyers like those at Firedoglake, Unclaimed Territory and The Anonymous Liberal. I hope more blogs like these come along.

I admit I'm too much of a generalist to settle down on one issue. But maybe my specialty is following my nose and seeing where it leads. If there's one thing I learned from the survey I did of the blogs listed on Technorati, it's that there's plenty of room to do more. Actually, there's a second thing, too; people who notice useful things need to get that information out more and they need to help each other do so.

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