Saturday, June 03, 2006

Feigenbaum On Why You Need To Pay Attention To The Blogs

Ed Feigenbaum is the editor and publisher of the Indiana Legislative Insight and its sister publications, Indiana Gaming Insight and Indiana Education Insight. He began writing his first legislative newsletter back in the late 1980s. He compares his entry onto the scene back then to the arrival of blogs on the Internet today in his latest edition of the ILI. As he describes it:

“How dare they!” was a refrain we often heard repeated, as assorted individuals and entities sought to deny us access afforded to other forms of media, broadcast and print, but we proved our legitimacy and staying power, and others have related to us over the years that this newsletter – and our sister newsletters – have made a significant contribution to the level of policy and political debate in the Hoosier State. As one veteran lobbyist once confided to another, this newsletter had the effect of changing some aspects of legislative behavior, because certain things would no longer go unreported.

Feigenbaum now accepts that he is a full-fledged member of the so-called mainstream media despite the reservations of traditional journalists when he got into the business. Given the journey he has taken, he thinks it is important to take a closer look at Indiana's political blog sites, and so he plans to do that in upcoming editions of his subcription-based newsletter. Feigenbaum tells his writers why they need to pay close attention to some of the blogs:

For one thing, they are an inevitable fact of life now, particularly among some age cohorts. reported Thursday that “Blogs written by so-called citizen journalists are increasingly challenging newspapers for readers. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, blogs and newspaper Web sites now have the same audience share – about 17 percent – among Internet users between the ages of 18 and 24.”

And, as we told you, they appeal to an elite audience, and they typically operate with fewer filters and constraints than the Mainstream Media (even some MSM bloggers – editors among them – seem to publish material on their blogs that some might suggest would not pass muster on the printed page of a conglomerate-owned newspaper, or broadcast over the airwaves of a television station owned by a major corporation).

Feigenbaum notes that the work of bloggers is often winding up in MSM reports. He writes, "While there is some circularity in the process (bloggers will often borrow or expand upon a given post with a “hat tip” to the originating author), you also should understand that the blogs are not only a source of leads for Mainstream Media reporters and for some law enforcement entities, but the more reputable blogs are more frequently turning up cited in the MSM as they break some important stories that the big boys and girls are unwilling to undertake (but more than willing to report about if someone else does the leg work) and fill out others."

Feigenbaum likens the current state of affairs to "the halycon days of the Wild, Wild, West, with no regulation or oversight." He says he will attempt to help his readers "navigate through the Internet equivalent of the OK Corral without injury."

I've known Ed since my law school days at IU-Indy where I first heard him speak as part of a panel discussion on alternative law careers, and I've grown to respect and admire his work very much. When I formerly worked as a lobbyist at a major Indianapolis law firm, I had the opportunity to work with Ed in co-hosting an annual Legislative Conference, which served as a must-attend seminar to know what was going to happen during the next legislative session. Later, as General Counsel to Novanis, I had the opportunity to assist Ed in his efforts to go online. The Indiana Daily Insight is kind of an early forerunner to the blogs. Political types often check it out as a part of their daily activities to make sure they haven't missed anything important. I'm looking forward to Ed's insight on Indiana's political blogs.

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