Over the past few years, the mainstream media has tried to dismiss bloggers and other emerging media outlets as rank amateurs. It's claimed that our sources are unreliable, our investigation methods are shaky, and all in all, bloggers are considered to be an unprofessional lot who serve no useful purpose in the reporting process.
Unfortunately, these same words can easily be used to describe the mainstream media. One need only to look to the story of John Mark Karr to see a vivid example of how the media runs with a story with little or no merit. As you probably remember, John Mark Karr "confessed" to killing JonBenet Ramsey, and for weeks, he held the media spellbound with his "confession" to the murder, although evidence placed him elsewhere at the time of the killing.
Now, in many cases, it's an emerging media writer who breaks a story that is then picked up by the mainstream. A case in point is the relationship of Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) and his wife Susan, who sits on the board of directors of no less than six corporations.
I broke this story in an article on Blogcritics on July 3, 2007. The article, Making Hay While the Sun Shines: How the Power of Influence Influences Power, details how the Bayh family built their fortune on Susan Bayh's ongoing role as a professional director. Of course, this creates at least the impression of a conflict of interest, since Senator Bayh sits on key committees that influence policy crucial to the success of Mrs. Bayh's companies.
On Sunday, Sylvia Smith "broke" this story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. This feature article serves as a signature piece for her, since this is her first report since being elected president of the National Press Club.
This story has huge implications for the upcoming presidential election in 2008, since Senator Bayh has recently endorsed Hillary Clinton, and he is also widely regarded as being on Senator Clinton's short list of running mates.
This is yet another example of how the emerging media played a huge role by being far out in front of a story that has enough legitimacy to be picked up by a respected mainstream jounalist and have national implications.
The blogosphere was over six months ahead of the mainstream media, and this bodes well for the future of emerging media throughout the world. If the mainstream media does not embrace the blogging community and see it for the value it has, it's just a matter of time before emerging media takes over the mainstream.