Whenever new media evangelists want an anecdote to illustrate the potential
power of the Blogosphere in influencing real world events and creating,
rather than regurgitating, news, they bring up the downfall of Trent
Lott. Its a great story, particular if you aren’t a big fan of racist
redneck reactionary Southern Republicans and closet Dixiecrats.
Now a recently completed study done at the The
Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public
Policy at Harvard’s JFK School of Government looks at what exactly
went down in story by story, post by post detail,
and it makes fascinating reading. This is the perfect article (longish
at 26 pages) to send to somebody who is really into the news and the
news industry but doesn’t really understand what blogs are or how they
interact with the traditional media.
It is available as a free download .pdf from the Shorenstein. The
weird thing is the extent to which the authors have gone to make sure
this milestone article in the academic history of the Blogosphere is
unbloggable. Excerpts or selections of the text cannot be saved, or copied
and pasted. The document cannot be converted to another format or saved
as anything else. The words “Not to be Copied” in 92-point faded-shit brown watermark letters are splayed diagonally across each and every page.
The selection below were typed out by the Dowbrigade, letter by letter.
We took a perverse pleasure in this exercise because, quite frankly,
as soon as we are told we cannot do something we want to do it. Obviously
this is a fundamentally anti-social attitude and for this reason we indulge
it only occasionally. In this case we were further motivated by the sincere
belief that by quoting a portion of the document some of our readers might
be interested enough to download
the entire thing, which we found well
worth the read.
Lott’s remarks did not go unnoticed by the scattering of print and television
journalists present, but with the notable exception of one ABC reporter,
they chose not to refer to them an their accounts of the party, which
largely mirrored the genial tone of the event. Nor did the press revisit
the matter in the days immediately following the party; the story of
Lott? speech surfaced sporadically in the newspapers and on TV talk shows,
but was not given sustained or prominent coverage. Among one group of
political writers, however, Lott’s words received close and unremitting
attention. These were the "Bloggers" – the slang term for the pundits
who kept online journals oc commentary known as "Weblogs." While the
mainstream media stayed largely silent on Lott, the "Blogosphere," as
it, hummed with indignation and outrage.
Within two weeks, however, the hum would grow into a roar and, under
intense pressure from his own party, Lott would step down as majority
leader – an event unprecedented in the annals of the Senate. In the aftermath
of this unforeseen and, to many, astonishing outcome, some credited bloggers
with playing a central role in the unraveling of Lott’s fortunes and
hailed them as a potent and unconventional new voice in the nation’s
the PDF to read the rest