The Blogosphere on Fire

As the election campaign heats up, and mainstream media outlets run interference for John Kerry, the blogosphere has suddenly come of age and is starting to fulfill the predictions of the last year or two. Suddenly, the blogosphere is front and center, driving the news cycle, along with other “new media” outlets–talk radio and, to a lesser extent, cable news. The traditional media’s monopoly has been broken, and they have lost their ability to control the news cycle and dictate the information that Americans receive–and don’t receive. They aren’t taking their decline very well, as we noted earlier today in reference to this morning’s sour grapes in the New York Times.
As the blogosphere has heated up, and we have tried to do our part to advance the key news stories of the day, our traffic has exploded. It’s grown steadily for as long as we’ve run this site, but over the last two weeks, traffic has been growing faster than ever. We set new records in both uniques and total hits yesterday. Other bloggers are having the same experience, especially those who have been on top of the Christmas in Cambodia story and related issues.
Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance Radio Network show has also taken off. More through coincidence than design, I suspect, we have found ourselves on the cutting edge of one of the most exciting media conjunctions of recent times: the fusion of the internet with talk radio. Our internet stream is now working flawlessly for most listeners, although a few still report technical problems. Last week King Banian listened to us in Armenia. During our show today, we got calls from internet listeners around the country, including one from Thomas Lifson of The American Thinker.
We talked about the Kerry meltdown during our first hour “Week In Review” segment, and the response was overwhelming. We’ve never seen the phones ringing off the hook like they were this afternoon. One caller told us about an editorial cartoon by Pat Oliphant that was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning. He was right; it is sickening. We had a newspaper in the studio and looked up the cartoon; we said we’d post it when we got an electronic version. (For some reason, it wasn’t available on the Strib site.) We were immediately deluged by emails from all over the country; listeners on the internet were responding to our request by sending us the cartoon via email. We posted the cartoon on the Northern Alliance web site. I’ll save you a click; here it is:
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Pat Oliphant, and the Star Tribune, portray the Swift Boat Vets–who include retired admirals, highly decorated officers and enlisted men, and several who suffered years of torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese as POWs–as a bunch of drunken, illiterate, ignorant bums who never experienced combat. Sick, but typical of the modern Democratic Party.
The second hour, we talked with Michelle Malkin about her new book, In Defense of Internment. Michelle was delightful, and once again the phones lit up and emails piled up in our inboxes, not just from radio listeners in the Twin Cities, but from people listening on the internet around the country.
We’re just getting started, but it isn’t hard to see where all of this is heading. What powers the blogosphere is what powers talk radio–the bloggers, sure, but far more important, a core of readers and listeners that is engaged, passionate, and above all, well-informed. It’s the dialogue, the quick response, the almost instantaneous supplementation of information and the quick correction of errors, and the freewheeling search for information and truth that puts the blogosphere head and shoulders above conventional journalism.
You couldn’t do this with, say, neurosurgery. A bunch of amateurs, no matter how smart and enthusiastic, could never outperform professional neurosurgeons, because they lack the specialized training and experience necessary for that field. But what qualifications, exactly, does it take to be a journalist? What can they do that we can’t? Nothing. Generally speaking, they don’t know any more about primary data and raw sources of information than we do–often less. Their general knowledge is often inadequate. Their superior resources should allow them to carry out investigations far beyond what we amateurs can do. But the reality is that the mainstream media rarely use those resources. Too many journalists are bored, biased and lazy. And we bloggers are not dependent on our own resources or those of a few amateurs. We can get information from tens of thousands of individuals, many of whom have exactly the knowledge that journalists could (but usually don’t) expend great effort to track down–to take just one recent example, the passability of the Mekong River at the Vietnam/Cambodian border during the late 1960s.
In two weeks, I’ll be one of twenty bloggers covering the Republican National Convention. Will the bloggers break any big stories? I don’t know, but I’ll wager that the coverage you read on this site and others will be at least as insightful and informative as what you can find in the mainstream media. At least.
It’s an exciting time to inhabit the blogosphere. Buckle your seat belts; it will be a wild ride from now to November, and beyond. And keep those emails coming. At the present rate, we can’t respond to them all, and we can’t take advantage of all of the good ideas our readers send in. But we do read all emails, and we respond to as many as we can, given the constraints of our day jobs.
The blogosphere is the eye of the hurricane, and is likely to remain so for some time.

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