February 15, 2007

Libby trial blogging

Filed under: politics — ubikcan @ 9:45 am

I noted earlier that the Media Bloggers Association had secured unprecedented access to the Libby trial as accredited journalists. The New York Times has a story on what the bloggers have been doing, including the fact that with no audio or video feed out of the trial, their live-blogging is being used by MSM journalists:

Sheldon L. Snook, the court official in charge of the news media, said the decision to admit bloggers — 5 to 10 of about 100 reporters present on busy trial days — has worked out well.

“It seems they can provide legal analysis and a level of detail that might not be of interest to the general public but certainly has an audience,” Mr. Snook said.

Even as they exploit the newest technologies, the Libby trial bloggers are a throwback to a journalistic style of decades ago, when many reporters made no pretense of political neutrality. Compared with the sober, neutral drudges of the establishment press, the bloggers are class clowns and crusaders, satirists and scolds.

“They’re putting in a lot more opinion and a lot more color than the traditional reporters,” said Mr. Cox, adding that the bloggers were challenging “the theory of objective journalism.”

Like the newspaper and network reporters, the bloggers have alternated between sitting in on testimony in Courtroom 16 and watching the video feed to the media room, where laptops are allowed.

In the courthouse, the old- and new-media groups have mixed warily at times. Mainstream reporters have shushed the bloggers when their sarcastic comments on the testimony drowned out the audio feed. But traditional reporters have also called on the bloggers on occasion to check a quote or an obscure detail from the investigation.

Some bloggers at the trial have seen their skepticism about mainstream reporting confirmed.

“It’s shown me the degree to which journalists work together to define the story,” said Marcy Wheeler, author of a book on the case, “Anatomy of Deceit,” and the woman usually in the Firedoglake live-blogger seat.

Ms. Wheeler, a business consultant from Michigan who writes under the nom-de-blog “emptywheel,” believes that some trial revelations have been underplayed in the conventional media because “once the narrative is set on a story, there’s no deviating from it.”


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