Once or twice a month, I have the opportunity to speak to foreign dignitaries visiting the United States under a program fostered by the International Council of Tampa Bay. Most often, my presentations are about the impact of social media on American politics.
One of the points I frequently make is how for years it was a handful of traditional media institutions, such as the New York Times, which set the agenda for the rest of the country. What showed up in the morning edition of the New York Times made its way to the evening newscasts and then to the regional newspapers.
While this is still mostly true, it is no longer exclusively so. Yes, the Times, the Washingtopn Post and the Wall Street Journal still play a dominant role, but increasingly some of the nation’s leading bloggers have a say in what the nation is talking and thinking about.
Just ask President Obama.
“I read all of the New York Times columnists,” said President Obama. “Krugman’s obviously one of the smartest economic reporters out there, but I also read some of the conservative columnists, just to get a sense of where those arguments are going.
President Obama continued, “There are a handful of blogs, Andrew Sullivan’s on the Daily Beast being an example, that combine thoughtful analysis with a sampling of lots of essays that are out there.”
A handful of blogs, huh? So, maybe, the bloggers aren’t so bad after all.
My hope is that SaintPetersBlog has the same kind of impact on state politics that Andrew Sullivan, my hero, has on national politics.
Understandably, Forida’s elected officials should read all of the columnists and reporters at the Tampa Bay Times, but they should also be reading a handful of statewide blogs. Not just mine, but The Reid Report and The Spencerian. Liberals should be reading The Shark Tank, just to get a sense of what the other side thinks. Conservatives should be reading Kenneth Quinnell for the same reason.
I’ll be talking about this kind of thing at the next meeting of Tiger Bay on May 9 when Tampa Bay Times columnists Eric Deggans and John Romano join myself, Creative Loafing’s Mitch Perry, 10 News’ Noah Pransky and the Tampa Tribune’s Jeff Houck for a panel discussion about the role of traditional and new media in covering politics.
Please make plans to attend.