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Blogging Innovators and Adapters
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, May 31, 2006

There's often a very combative relationship between blogs and the mainstream media or between blogs and politicians. In fact, that's partially what drives the popularity of blogs. But it's worth mentioning that that's not always the case. Some politicians, organizations and media outlets have embraced both blogs and the combat with bloggers.

Leaving aside the use of blogs in political campaigns, which I think has been of mixed value to date, a few successful adapters spring to mind:


Other papers have set up a minimal blog presence, or have had input by bloggers, but the Post has gone far beyond their competitors, adding a wide range of blogs to their stable — and promoting them prominently. And Howard Kurtz frequently mines and makes excellent use of the blogosphere in his Media Notes column.

What's more, The Washington Post is the only major newspaper (of which I know) to integrate outside blog reaction into individual news stories, with technorati links on each page. I'm still curious to see where they'll go with the Red America/Blue America/[libertarian/independent?] America blog idea, though.

The Washington Post will have successes and failures as they embrace the blog, but they're on the leading edge and they should be applauded for braving it.


Politicians have entered the blogosphere during campaigns, but mostly as campaign outreach, and I don't think the utility of that is entirely clear. The Bush/Cheney '04 blog, for example, was not harmful to their campaign, but with little more than schedules and press releases, it certainly couldn't have been very helpful, either. Other campaigns adopted a more "bloggy" approach, but it's arguable that an overreliance on their blog audience was detrimental to those campaigns. (e.g., the Dean campaign)

In any event, it's one thing to set up a campaign blog; it's another thing to have the representatives qua representative to communicate in a blog. To that end, I think Jack Kingston (R-GA) is to be applauded for his "Jack's Blog". Granted, it's mostly written by staffers, but they've been consistent about it, they post interesting insider pics, they've done well covering, e.g., the Rayburn "shooting" scare, and they link to commentary and blogs rather than merely operating another press release page.

It seems to me that a well done blog could actually replace the press release page without losing its personality and immediacy.


Technorati has announced a partnership with the Associated Press to start "a service to connect bloggers to more than 440 AP member newspapers nationwide." That strikes me as a positive development.

TCS Daily has made fairly good use of blogs as a feeding tool for writers and ideas. It seems to me that they're missing the boat by not having some sort of blog of their own, and by not taking more advantage of blogospheric discussion of their articles.

A few political magazines of various ideological stripes have exploited blogging to great effect. Chief among them, I think, are National Review, Washington Monthly, Reason and The American Prospect.

Surprisingly — to me, anyway — Think Tanks have been relatively slow to take advantage of the blogosphere, and relatively unsuccessful when they do. The Cato Institute has recently moved into the blogosphere and they seem to be doing it fairly well, but they seem to be the exception. Other think tank blogs (From The Heartland, for example) seem to be fairly cautious or inexpert at promoting themselves. I'm not sure why that is, but I suspect that, though a good blogger can always turn out a good blog for a think tank, think tankers don't necessarily make a successful blog.

Anyway, those are my candidates for successful blog adapters. Who else is leading the pack in the evolution of blogging?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Cato is the exception because there was already a spontaneous Cato blog mafia for several years — Wilkinson, Balko, Logan, Tom Palmer, Tim Lee, etc. They had a lot of individual experience to draw from before diving in as an organization.
Written By: Matt McIntosh
Good point. And even that is a bit mystifying, because for all their natural talent, it seems to me that Cato has (to date) done a fairly poor job of outreach. They seem stuck between a academic policy outfit and an effective outreach organization. I think they could do the former better if they ramped up the latter.

I realize there are probably some legal problems with intermingling the two, but it seems to me that there’s room for a think tank/activist hybrid in the libertarian field. The Democratic Center for American Progress is, I think, plowing that new ground right now and doing quite well at it.
Written By: Jon Henke

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