The media torch has been passed. Not to a new generation, but to a new medium.
Not that the incoming medium notices. To read DailyKos you would think that idiocy were triumphant. Yet despite the constant drumbeat of "Obama’s going down" from TV "pundits" and newspaper wags, nothing has really happened. Polls have barely budged.
This would not have been the case 20 years ago, or even 4 years ago. Michael Dukakis was destroyed for simply looking goofy in a tank, Howard Dean by a misrepresented attempt to rev up his supporters. The power of pundits and the media to make (and break) candidates has gone unquestioned for decades now.
Something very important.
For decades magazines like the National Review and The New Republic bragged about their pass-along readership, insisting they influenced everyone they touched, and that their reach was thus much broader than their circulation numbers.
A medium’s power and influence is only partly a function of its circulation and pass-along readership. It’s also based on the intensity of the loyalty readers have to that medium, their willingness to advocate on behalf of what the medium has said, simply by talking about it, and the depth of their engagement.
The New Yorker proved this 8 decades ago. The magazine made stars of early contributors like Robert Benchley (right) and Dorothy Parker, then continued doing so, and does so today. Why?
Not just because of how many people talk about what’s written there, but because of who talks about what is written there. Smart people, rich people, powerful people, people looking to back big talent of all kinds. This is the third dimension of a medium’s influence.
So now that you understand the three dimensions of media influence, how stand liberal Web sites like The Huffington Post and DailyKos?
Awfully well. HuffPo (notice how top sites get their own nicknames) probably does best on The New Yorker measurement, while Kos (the man’s nickname now belongs to the site) does better on the National Review measure. There’s overlap, in terms of content, and there’s a whole ecosystem of sites below these two (I guess the one you’re reading is a minnow in that sea) but the point is made.
Taken together, the Netroots Web now represents a hefty counterpoint to whatever the mainstream media — let along Right Blogistan — cares to dish out. Add to that the growing Crisis, which the major media only gives lip service to but the Internet allows the rest of us to describe in overwhelming detail, and you have a completely different media world.
And here’s the most important point of all.
The torch is not going back.