Given the consideration the Fair Political Practices Commission is giving blogs and the fact that pay walls are being constructed around newspaper articles (there’s a pay wall around the article linked to in this paragraph), it’s clear political blogs are gaining attention and will undoubtedly play a bigger role in political debates.
That’s not a bad thing, if you believe in the Marketplace of Ideas. Create many outlets to discuss and debate policy and news and let the public sift through the ideas in the marketplace to discover truths. In California, we have a plethora of political sites that cover all perspectives.
In a sense, with multiple blogs, dissemination of news and opinion is a bit of Back to the Future. In this country’s history, multiple newspapers in the same location argued over policy and politics. As a website dedicated to early American newspapers notes, “Early American newspapers, often printed by small-town printers, documented the daily life of hundreds of diverse American communities, supported different political parties and recorded both majority and minority views.”
As newspapers disappeared, outlets to the marketplace of ideas shrank. The Internet is bringing it back. Like some newspapers in the old days, certain blogs have a particular ideological bent. Others, such as this site, often offer differing perspectives.
Social media, even in the succinct form of Twitter, enlarges the marketplace. Whether such communication enriches the marketplace or bogs it down has been debated. While the twitter-verse can be messy, more perspectives don’t hurt the debate.
What got me thinking about this is that I was informed that today’s post is the 1,000 I have written for Fox and Hounds in the five-and-a-quarter years the site has been up. It sure helps to be your own editor; less rejection notices that way.
This thought comes to mind because recently Gary Kurutz, Principal Librarian for Special Collections at the California State Library asked me to contribute my “papers” and other items from my nearly 35 years in state politics. Among that collection was the 200-plus op-ed pieces I’ve had published in national and state newspapers.
Comparing the 1,000 posts over a shorter time period to the 200 or so op-eds, even though the op-eds may have enjoyed a wider audience, shows the capacity of the Internet to increase debate in the marketplace if your site builds a following. As newspapers cut off access through pay walls – and they rightly are protecting a product that it costs them to produce – the state’s free political blogs potentially become more influential.
As to the 1,200 pieces or so that I’ve published, I’m probably only about 25,000 behind Dan Walters now. (UPDATE: Dan Walters tells me he has filed about 10,000 columns and posts over the years, still an impressive number.)
Speaking of libraries, the Abraham Lincoln exhibition at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley (through September 30) contains one unexpected exhibit – a salute to Marilyn Monroe!
Apparently, Monroe was a big fan of the Great Emancipator. The exhibit said she hung a picture of Lincoln everywhere she lived, read all she could about the man and became friends with Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg. The exhibit displayed a couple of pictures of Monroe and Sandburg together and also contained a bust of Sandburg that Monroe owned.
If, like Ms. Monroe, you are a fan of Lincoln’s, the exhibit contains items owned by President and Mrs. Lincoln including Lincoln’s stovepipe hat and pocket watch. There is also a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln and sets from Steven Spielberg’s movie, Lincoln.