Saturday, November 20, 2004

Blogging on the West Wing

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:40 AM |  

Jupiterresearch analyst Michael Gartenberg notesthat blogging made another inroad in the mainstream media.

Last night blogging hit this week’s episode of the West Wing. This is the first time I know of where weblogs played part in the storyline of a TV show. It was interesting how the weblogs were portrayed. First, some background; one of the characters was involved in accident, where he crashed a large SUV into a Toyota Prius (which as you imagine might create a bit of an image problem for the West Wing if the story got out).

1. The story is revealed via a political weblog and includes a photo from a cameraphone to back it up. Not just blogging, but moblogging :)

2. When the weblog is dismissed, the character is told that mainstream media all read weblogs and the story will be picked up.

3. When the character calls the weblog author, he tells the author they are off the record and goes into a tirade. To his horror, he sees every word he's uttering being posted in real time in front of him. He's subsequently informed that "these people aren't journalists...", implying that a journalist would be "bound" by his off the record comment and not write about it and a blogger would simply ignore it (and did ignore it).

There are some interesting lessons here. First and foremost is post election, weblogs are firmly planted into the consciousness of the mainstream and have even migrated to popular fictional shows like the West Wing. The perception of them, as illustrated by the show, is that they are quick to respond but lack the ethics and rules that journalists play by. While far from an accurate portrayal, reality often doesn't matter in the face of perception. I think today's bloggers are a misunderstood entity by the mainstream media but it's the mainstream media that shapes public perception.
I’d add not only are bloggers misunderstood, but the potential of the blogosphere for the mainstream media is underestimated. As is always the case when the “invisible hand” starts pushing the imagination, while most mainstream media and most bloggers engage in battling one another, some smart people are going to figure out how the two are compatible.