I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Congrats to Josh, but...

Well deserved congratulations to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, who was recognized this week as the first blogger to receive the George Polk Award for legal reporting. This honor was bestowed for his dogged coverage of the story about the firing of the Arizona federal attorneys, eventually leading to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. TPM and its subsidiary sites such as TPM Muckraker are great sites, and Josh has been a fixture in the online news community for a very long time. In the same week he also managed to get his press credentials restored by the Justice Department after they pulled them last year. Well done there as well.

I would take one exception with the tone of the coverage on this story and some of the definitions. First, the title... "Blogger, Sans Pajamas, Rakes Muck and a Prize." And then, from the body of the article, there's this...
To scores of bloggers, it was a case of local boy makes good. Many took it as vindication of their enterprise — that anyone can assume the mantle of reporting on the pressing issues affecting the nation and the world, with the imprimatur of a mainstream media outlet or not.

You see, this is pretty much the stereotypical description of the real, grass roots bloggers. The people who generally have day jobs, other lives, and often only squeeze in time for their blogging before work while sipping coffee in their pajamas. As valuable as I personally find TPM and as much as I admire Josh's work, we probably shouldn't get too bad of a case of the vapors over this. Marshall is hardly an example of the run of the mill blogger. Most of us have other "day jobs" and come into the blogging world as single, unknown voices trying to take part in the conversation. Some, who got into the game very early and had a bit of skill and a ton of luck were a able to draw increasingly large crowds of readers and carved out a niche.

Josh Marshall was already a journalist (in fact an editor of The American Prospect) when he set up his blog. He had influence and connections, allowing him the insider status to get interviews, quotes, tips, etc. which most regular bloggers will only ever dream of. And he set this up as a business, pretty much from day one. Within a year he was holding fundraisers and attracting advertisers. He now has multiple offices and paid reporters working for him. He is indeed a new and relatively unique example of the evolving world of journalism, but by the same token he's hardly the poster boy of the regular citizens who sign up for a free Blogger account and dip a toe in the pool.

Still in all, well done Mr. Marshall and well deserved accolades for all your excellent work.