Blogs changing face of pol coverage

Panelists wonder whether new media hurts journalism

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It's the Twitter revolution of journalism.

Members of a panel on politics and the media sponsored by USC's Annenberg School for Communications and Politico said Tuesday that the explosion of blogs and instant communication has revolutionized journalism -- and not always in a good way.

Nina Easton, Fortune's Washington editor and a Fox News contributor, said that gone are the days of the Richard Ben Cramer-esque long magazine-style pieces on the candidates.

"Nobody reads them. It's not the water cooler conversation," Easton said. "The water cooler conversation is what happened in the last second."

Easton and others said that in its place are blogs and Twitter and other types of shorter journalism. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, the panelists agreed, but they wondered whether journalism would suffer.

Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon, a pioneer political blogger, said that 50-word blog entries can't capture the entire issues of the environment, health care and other important topics.

Mark McKinnon, former chief media adviser to John McCain and George W. Bush, said a major change in politics and the media is how the process has been democratized to the point where ordinary people creating content "in their pajamas" can change the course of a campaign. He cited the Barack Obama ad made to look like the Apple "1984" spot as one of the more effective examples.

Bloggers also have driven the mainstream media to stories, including the John Edwards affair and most recently the pregnancy of Gov. Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter.

The panel was held at the offices of St. Paul-based American Public Radio, the nation's second-largest public radio network after NPR.