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Friday, January 13, 2006

Confirmation of a Reformation

In Thursday's Minneapolis StarTribune, Katherine Kersten relays the situation of blogger Michael Brodkorb in what could be a portent for other members of the long tail of the blogosphere:
... Brodkorb is one of the dozens of enterprising bloggers in Minnesota who keep the major media empires on their toes, sometimes beating them at their own game.

Last week, however, he found himself in a media-related battle royal.

The dispute started with a Brodkorb post Dec. 28 reporting that Hubert (Buck) Humphrey IV had solicited business from Coleen Rowley's congressional campaign on behalf of New School Communications, the public relations firm of veteran DFL political commentator Blois Olson. Brodkorb alleged that Olson began criticizing the Rowley campaign after it declined Humphrey's overture.

Olson fired off a rebuttal, which Brodkorb posted on his blog within minutes of receiving it. Olson said Humphrey was not acting for New School Communications: "Your story is ABSOLUTELY FALSE." In addition, he criticized the erstwhile anonymity of the blog and closed with a plug for his own political newsletter.

A week later, Olson pulled out the American weapon of choice: He filed a lawsuit, alleging defamation...
Instead of backing the little guy in the name of Free Speech, the Strib editors responded predictably, showing that despite recent content and format moves designed to co-opt the new media trend, they still don't get it:
Instead, the Star Tribune's Blog House column dismissed partisan blogs such as Brodkorb's as unworthy of the name, while the newspaper's opinion page gave Olson prime, above-the-fold space on Sunday to tell his side of the story.
But Kersten leaves no doubt as to where this will end, regardless of what happens in Brodkorb's case:
Blois Olson... is co-publisher of Politics in Minnesota, an e-newsletter that, like Brodkorb's blog, covers the political scene.

Annette Meeks, a former colleague of mine at the Center of the American Experiment, thinks publications such as Olson's are hard-pressed to compete today.

"The world is 24/7 now," she said. "Politics in Minnesota publishes a weekly report and a daily news compilation, and it charges for the information. Michael Brodkorb usually posts multiple times a day on his blog and provides his information for free. Brodkorb is beating his competition. It drives his opponents crazy that he's generally been spot-on, with all the little scoops he gets."

Have political blogs changed the environment for newspapers? "Many reporters tell me that they've been going to Brodkorb's blog for months," Meeks said.

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