Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Political Bloggers And The MSM

As one of the 8 bloggers recruited by KELO TV for their political blog section, a story about a similar blogging project involving my hometown paper caught my eye. Like KELO, the Cleveland Plain Dealer recruited several local bloggers to participate in a co-operative political blog sponsored by the newspaper. Now of course that isn't something unique (thought the Plain Dealer bloggers are paid), what got my attention is what happened when one of the freelance bloggers, Jeff Coryell, who was critical of a local US House Member on his own blog and donated to his opponents during the 2006 elections was found to be on the Plain Dealer's payroll, he was fired!
Today I was terminated from my engagement as a freelance blogger at the Cleveland.com blog "Wide Open" as a direct result of intervention of Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) of the 14th Ohio Congressional District, in retaliation for my previous blogging about his re-election campaign and my financial support for two of his election opponents.
Read the account from the blogger in question here.

I admit that Ohio and South Dakota are 2 completely different animals but this situation brings up a few questions. How would things shake out if a similar situation happened here? What if a local candidate like say Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for instance took umbrage with something one of us wrote either on our own or our KELO blog and made that displeasure known to the powers that be in the news department at the state's most watched TV news outlet, how would they react? Of course we couldn't be fired like the blogger in question as we aren't actually employed by KELO but would they censor the post if it appeared on their site? Would they disassociate themselves with the person in question? Personally I don't think they would as long as it wasn't something totally over the top but who knows for sure?

The 2004 election was for the most part the beginning of an online revolution in regards to tools available to political campaigns and showed what bloggers could do during a campaign (just ask Tom Daschle and Thune operative and blogger Jon Lauck). The 2008 election appears to be taking that revolution to the next level by meshing blogs, at least on a limited basis, with the MSM. This partnership is a relatively new phenomenon that so far it isn't working too well in Cleveland and only time will tell how it will work here in South Dakota. Either way it should be an interesting ride...

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