Proof That Blogging Won't Ruin Journalism

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 19, 2008

Proof That Blogging Won't Ruin Journalism

The George Polk Awards are among the most prestigious in journalism. And this year's winners, announced today, for the first time include a blogger: Josh Marshall, of TalkingPointsMemo.com, for his coverage of the U.S. Attorneys scandal. 

It's not the first time Josh and his site led the national media on a story. (Just ask Trent Lott.)  Nor is it the first time Josh was recognized for such work.  Two years ago, he won the Sidney Hillman Award, which recognizes journalism that advances the cause of social justice. 

Will Bunch has the full story here (along with an adorable picture of Josh and his son Sam).  But I'd like to add one thought.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I worry a lot about what blogs are doing to journalism.  While the explosion in content, both in volume and variety, is terrific, the blogosphere also puts a huge premium on timeliness and sheer outrageousness. The result, I think, is a lot of commentary based loosely, if at all, on facts -- not to mention a whole lot of nastiness.  And as more mainstream publications feel compelled to compete in this world, there's a danger such writing will crowd out more substantive and thoughtful coverage -- particularly given the very real commerical pressures news organizations face.

This is not exactly a new problem in journalism, I realize.  Folks worried about television for the same reason. Then again, a quick look at television news today might suggest those concerns were entirely reasonable.  But I also can find hopeful signs -- among them, the existence of blogs like TPM, who prove on a daily (er, hourly) basis that blogging needn't be shallow, hasty, or overwrought.  It's still journalism.  And excellent journalism at that.

I count Josh as a friend, so perhaps that biases me.  But I think today's honor was entirely deserved.

--Jonathan Cohn

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