Shakespeare said that sometimes you have to give the devil his due.
OK, here goes: I get most of my national and state political news by reading blogs.
I love newspapers. Despite the schadenfreude of bloggers at this tough time for print media, newspapers will survive the switch from print to Web news.
They will continue to employ thousands of trained journalists and make billions of dollars providing millions of Americans the news. It just won’t be as many thousands of journalists, billions of dollars or millions of Americans as in our heyday.
One of the reasons for newspapers’ reduced size and influence is that the Internet is giving rise to niche news providers who do some reporting better than newspapers. Especially political coverage.
Many bloggers still report little news. Instead they opine on the news they read in the newspapers they love to whine about.
But nationally, several blogs have been breaking political news that the so-called mainstream press ends up chasing.
One of the first and most successful is the Huffington Post, started by used-to-be-a-Republican Ariana Huffington.
A budding counterbalance to the Huffington Post’s liberalism is Pajamas Media, a collection of conservative blogs created by used-to-be-a-Democrat Roger L. Simon.
Competing with the national bloggers is Politico.com, a Web site made up of professional journalists and run by a news company.
It has far better writing, reporting and reasoning than the often-shrill navel gazing found in most political blogs.
On the state level, I’m ashamed to say that a handful of political bloggers are doing a better job of covering the state legislative races this year than any of the state newspapers.
The anonymity of some of these bloggers drives me crazy. I’d like to know who’s providing me the news (especially when they throw stones at newspaper reporters who write stories they don’t like. Quit being hypocrites and put your names out there).
One who does sign his posts is Greg Patterson of the Espresso Pundit. He’s a former state legislator who lives in Phoenix, and he’s affecting political coverage in the press.
In recent weeks, he’s been writing about problems with signatures on some state ballot initiatives, especially Gov. Janet Napolitano’s fave, the TIME initiative. It would raise the state’s sales tax to pay for road construction.
Patterson blogged for two weeks that the initiative was in trouble because too many of the signatures were being rejected.
This week, both The Arizona Republic and The Associated Press wrote stories saying that.
A story that newspapers didn’t chase but I found fascinating was the Sonoran Alliance blog item about the state Republican Party convention in May.
Before the convention, Sonoran Alliance bloggers tried to get expunged any Arizona delegates to the national convention who had ever supported or given money to a Democrat.
The effort failed. After the convention, a couple of bloggers wrote about how party leaders “silenced” GOP troublemakers at the convention who were unhappy with the party’s pending nomination of Sen. John McCain.
State party officials (who were not named) reportedly didn’t want to embarrass the presumptive nominee by having a rebellion against him at his home state’s GOP convention.
There are two solutions to the blogger problem, as I see it from a business perspective.
One is to add more political reporters at state newspapers. Since more layoffs loom, that’s unlikely.
The other is to bring the bloggers into the fold. Newspapers will get political news they wouldn’t otherwise have and more readers, which leads to more advertising.
Bloggers will get more readers and paid for the rock throwing.
Sounds like a win-win to me.
Reach Tucson Citizen assistant city editor Mark B. Evans at 573-4614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.