Bloggers across the nation have achieved another victory in their quest to dethrone the mainstream media. When the Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial begins next week in Washington, White House correspondents from media outlets like CNN and the New York Times will have to surrender a couple of courthouse seats to bloggers.
“Breaking news out of the Internet: there is something called ‘the Media Bloggers Association,’ and they are working to destroy everything right and good with the world,” remarks Wonkette. “Oh, and they also got a couple of media credentials for Scooter Libby’s upcoming all-star trial. We call Dick Cheney Deposition Day!”
As the Washington Post reports today, the association has won those credentials following two years of negotiations, allowing it to “assemble a diverse group of bloggers” who will rotate through its two seats at the trial — a development that has set the blogosphere buzzing.
“Getting credentials for this case is a big, big deal. The media landscape shifts tectonically with every new landmark like this, and there is no question this is just the beginning,” writes the Maine Web Report.
Jeralyn of TalkLeft agrees that “this is big progress for bloggers,” writing: “It’s hard to get a press pass for the actual courtroom in a high-profile case, as opposed to the overflow courtroom, where you only get to hear audio of what’s going on. It’s just not the same. You can’t see the jurors or watch the body language of the trial participants. Even major TV networks usually only get a few seats in the courtroom, with the rest of their reporters and pundits having to be in the overflow courtroom.” (In an update, Jeralyn reports that Media Bloggers has nevertheless requested “the overflow room because the court has agreed to put in WiFi [and video] so they can live-blog the trial” from there.)
But the blogosphere has not turned into a love fest just yet. In particular, some bloggers have taken offense to the Post’s fifth-paragraph dig that “The common journalistic practices of verifying facts, seeking both sides of a story and subjecting an article to editing are honored mostly in the breach. Innuendo and rumor ricochet around the Internet as blogs link from one to another, at times making defamatory voices indistinguishable from the many others involved in this experiment of free expression.”
“What utter rubbish,” responds James Joyner of Outside the Beltway, himself one of the bloggers who will sit in on the trial. “From the days of Yellow Journalism through today’s tabloid dailies, the business side of media has always trumped the theoretical professionalism. Innuendo and rumor from unattributed sources are front-page news even at such august institutions as the Post and the New York Times. Since the advent of 24/7 cable news, editorial control and verification have gone by the wayside. And the Post even has blogs of its own these days.”
“To say that people can’t distinguish credible blogs from bad is to give too little credit,” Joyner adds. “Can people not tell the New York Post or New York Daily News from the New York Times?”
Blue Crab Boulevard, meanwhile, was irked by the Post’s reference to the “traditional checks-and-balances process that journalists follow.”
“Since just lately the ‘checks and balances’ a lot of the traditional media are applying seems to be checking if anyone is looking and balancing how much they can get away with versus whether they think they’ll get caught, I wouldn’t put much stock in that, myself,” writes Blue Crab. “Was that snarky? Good.”