At least one media outlet is bucking the field's bleak economic outlook: The left-wing blog Talking Points Memo. On Monday, Noam Cohen reported in the New York Times that TPM has received funding from outside investors that will result in a doubling of staff, and may include some veteran mainstream journalists.
The political news Web site Talking Points Memo this weekend completed a round of investment, of $500,000 to $1 million. The move is intended to increase the number of employees, to roughly 20, from the current 11, in the next 10 months.
The financing is the first part of a three-year plan to increase the site's staff to 60 employees, Joshua Micah Marshall, the site's founder, said in an interview at his offices on West 20th Street in New York.
Marshall, who in TPM's early days (the blog was launched during the Florida recount fight of Election 2000) was less reflexively anti-Republican than today, has beefed up the once-humble blog to include TPM café, a discussion site, and TPM Muckraker, an investigative site almost exclusively devoted to conservative scandal-mongering.
Although the established media often rails against bloggers, Marshall is an exception. As Cohen reported back in February 2008, Marshall won the media's George Polk Award for legal reporting for his work on the Bush administration firing eight U.S. attorneys under what TPM and other liberals claimed were politically motivated circumstances -- a perfectly legal effort that was nonetheless considered scandalous by mainstream media.
Marshall told the Times that he's received 200 applications for the new positions he's announced, including some veteran news names:
He said that in a week and half, he had received 200 applications for the seven positions that have been announced, some from news veterans with 25 years of experience. "They are the best group of applicants I have ever seen," he said, adding that "when I see some of their applications, I think I should be applying to them."
Any names we'd recognize? It's likely. TPM recently employed at least one mainstream journalist, former Time Magazine White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, and it's clearly a popular MSM read.
Columnist Maureen Dowd got in trouble for taking the blog's "Talking Points" title too literally, and fellow columnists Frank Rich and Gail Collins also use it (and at least cite it, unlike Dowd's plagiarism). When TPM challenged some campaign reporting by the Times's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney that it considered unfair to Obama, Nagourney responded respectfully and even conceded some points, something you couldn't imagine him doing for, say, a conservative Times watchdog.
The New York Times database alone shows at least five citings of TPM as a news source, besides the many references in columns, and several mentions in discussions of influential blogs.
That's not counting the ways TPM investigations have been injected into the mainstream media by leading the way on stories like the Bush attorney firings and the Trent Lott-Strom Thurmond controversy. If the expansion goes as planned, expect to see TPM push even more liberal stories into the mainstream media, one way or the other.