New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller penned a letter to the New York Review of Books, in reply to a Michael Massing article on the Internet and the news business. After defending his paper's Internet presence, Keller found a blog he actually likes, praising left-wing blogger-journalist Josh Marshall, who operates the Talking Points Memo blog.
I've long been an admirer of the best practitioners of Web journalism, including many of the familiar faces Massing introduces to the Review's readers. My respect for Josh Marshall, to cite everyone's favorite example of a serious journalism venture born online, is all the greater because his success remains, so far, a rarity and a struggle. To point out that few bloggers do what Marshall does, that most of them riff on, sample, propagate, challenge, and sometimes excoriate the work of traditional journalists, is not to disparage their work in the slightest. When it is done well, the role of online critics, analysts, and debunkers makes us better and makes the whole experience richer.
As I wrote in July, the left-wing TPM blog is a favorite read and idea source for the mainstream media. Far from a media pariah, Marshall won the 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 legal effort nonetheless considered scandalous by the mainstream media.