Blogs Have Their Day

How three amateur journalists dethroned an icon and turned the mainstream media upside down, all without quitting their day jobs

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    But it won't change everything. Blogs are just too different, too weird, to become wholly mainstream. For starters, they're too cheap, too easy and too loud. They allow Americans to wean themselves off corporate-funded media and speak directly to one another. Dick Morris, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, points out that in past elections he relied on polls, ads and news coverage in analyzing the political situation but that in 2004 it just wasn't sufficient. "You couldn't do that," Morris says, "because the inputs were so pluralistic, this massive volume of e-mails and websites flowing back and forth, millions of social circles throughout the U.S., almost like Christmas-card lists crossing each other each day. It created a dynamic in which the campaigns accounted for a relatively small proportion of the important inputs that happened. Most of them were spontaneously generated from below." People weren't paying attention to the Man. They were listening to one another.

    The story of how three amateur journalists working in a homegrown online medium challenged a network news legend and won has many, many game-changing angles to it. One of the strangest and most radical is that the key information in "The 61st Minute" came from Power Line's readers, not its ostensible writers. The Power Liners are quick, even eager, to point this out. "What this story shows more than anything is the power of the medium," Hinderaker says. "The world is full of smart people who have information about every imaginable topic, and until the Internet came along, there wasn't any practical way to put it together."

    Now there is. A phenomenon like "The 61st Minute" is the result of the journalistic equivalent of massively parallel processing. The Internet is a two-way superhighway, and every Power Line reader is also a Power Line writer, stringer, ombudsman and editor at large. There are 100,000 cooks in the kitchen, and more are showing up all the time. Call it the Power Line effect. Conventional media may have more readers than blogs do, but conventional media can't leverage those readers the way blogs can. Want a glimpse of the future of blogs? The more popular blogs are, the stronger they get. And they're not getting any less popular. --With reporting by Unmesh Kher

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