TPM Changed the World

I think Talking Points Memo is the most important content-based website in the world. I mean that literally.

Talking Points Memo is carrying the water for an awful lot of institutions in this country, such as:

1. Reporting-Most websites and commentators can only attempt to provide perspective on facts and coverage of politics and policy. TPM now has reporters that work on staff, making TPM both a commentator and and driver of the stories. Their work has been instrumental in uncovering numerous bad acts by the Bush Administration, including the current (and most damaging) US Attorney scandal, but also the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal, Abramoff, Foley, Katrina, the Nigerian Uranium documents, among others. So many to choose from. TPM has been asking a lot of questions the mainstream press never got around to. But that’s not all they are doing…

2. Truly New Media-Now they are doing their own newscasts, as seen on the post below. Pay attention to the production values in that clip. It looks like a newscast in the way it uses the graphics, but it takes the time it needs to develop the point. The overwhelming advantage TPM has and uses is that they know their audience can keep up with the story, so they don’t shy away from the complexity or detail. Yes, show us the Monica Goodling emails! And speaking of those emails, do you know who first found that email in the DOJ document dump #2?

3. I did-Well, truth be told, I can’t prove that. But I can tell you I found that Goodling email in the document dump not more than 10 minutes after TPM first posted the URL to the documents, with an invitation to all TPM readers to start sifting through the pile. Think about that. Think about all the things our media has turned a blind eye to in the last eight years, all the things they missed in the first place because they didn’t ask. Do I trust those people to catch all the angles on a document dump, or do I trust TPM readers? I have to be honest, I was somewhat moved after spending about 30 minutes reading the stuff late one night last week. I felt like I had just participated in something historic, a new frontier for distributed power, politics, journalism, and the internet all in one, and all in real time.

4. And let’s not forget, shall we, the fight TPM is fighting. Think about all the corruption, all the fiascoes, and all the complicit, bewildering media coverage of the last eight years. Amazon’s a great website, fine, but TPM ensured a Democratic Senate. No question in my mind about that.
Besides the newspaper, it is the only website I read every single day. And if I miss a day, I read every word of the archives. I personally think Josh Marshall is a media empire waiting to happen, and seeing the clip I posted below convinces me of that more than ever. And given that, I wanted to mention that TPM is having a fundraiser, this time to specifically raise money to add reporters to cover Capital Hill.

There are a lot of worthy causes out there. Waaayyy too many. But I have a hard time thinking of any single entity that is doing as much good for this country (and sadly, the world) as TPM is. And given that they are still a very small operation, and given how large a thorn in the side of the Bush Administration they have been, I have to believe they are still susceptible to “unforeseen hardships”, like an IRS audit, a Patriot Act-enabled computer seizure, or a hurricane. So I’m thinking every little bit will help.

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4 Responses to TPM Changed the World

  1. kelly says:

    So I’ve been thinking about this post for a little while. Was surprised to see no comments… so here it goes.

    I’ve no doubt TPM is one of the most reliable and high quality news sources, particularly in relationship to what happens on Capitol Hill. I go their first for whats hot. I read them, everyone on this blog probably reads them, and still TPM probably catches an infinitely small readerhip in comparison to the ‘mass media’. (that video coverage kicks ass)

    So I guess my question is, how will/is TPM truly change(ing) the world? Or is that simply a catchy title. I hear you on content, accuracy, etc. But where is the impact to their influence?

    Is TPM going to sumpble onto the ‘tipping point’ as a result of people like the ones that read your blog being influential enough to create mass consumption and some big fiasco where everyone suddenly goes to their site? Or is it that TPM influences the editors desperate for good stories and hot tips, and these leads and stories then seep into bigger publications, which through scale actually do influence minds and trigger events?

    Dont get me wrong, I think TPM kicks ass, I’m just wondering when everyone else will think so or care.

    I believe that both your-blog-reader like folks will talk TPM up, and editors can poach his reporting, without it radically improving the quality of the mass media or the understading of the larger voting populace. Why? A deep skepticism about the active learning my fellow american is willing to do. (which new high quality video significantly helps of course) AND, a presumption that the “mass media” through a somewhat unfair economy of scale has a system dialed in (not only in terms of content, but also control). Look at the decisions made by the FCC in the past 5 years.

    The only thing I can think of is that people will/are preferring Internet delivered ‘news’ and in that world TPM vs. CNN are more comparable than a Blog vs. Tom Brokaw and the nightly news. But that’s gradual, and not ‘world changing’ in and of itself (otherwise it would have already happened). What scenerio would force this change quicker? Maybe TPM will get video footage of Rove raping some exotic animal and access so restricted and subject so hot grandma will insist on learning how to find video on the internet rather than wait for a 60 minutes expose….

    I’ve found new hope for my fellow citizen on the eventual ‘waking up’ but almost overnight support regarding Global Warming, (al gore isnt such a schmoe after all). But I don’t want to set my hope so high…..I’m such a wuss when it comes to my optimism. PS I’m contributing to TPM

  2. pipelineblog says:

    I certainly can’t establish a causal link, but I think it’s intuitive that TPM’s excellent coverage of so many events that have been damaging to the GOP has influenced both public opinion and news coverage of those events. Given the slim margins of the Dem hold on the Legislative branch, I think it’s hard to overstate TPM’s impact.

    And again, I think TPM’s role as an investigative entity is critical. So much of the “blogosphere”, politically speaking, is just air, commentary based on nothing. Like Pipeline. Or worse, PowerLine, which is pretty much a head-nodding circle jerk for neo-conservative die-hards whose main concerns are the Muslimization of U.S. culture and Sandy Berger, aka Sandy Burglar. (A moniker I do admit is irresistable.)

    All those sites, Greenwald, Atrios, Eschaton, all they do is stand on the sideline and type words as it goes by. TPM has actual reporting staff with contacts, they get some amount of access, they break stories, they drive stories, and they are evolving the way they track down and present that information.

    I don’t think TPM has to reach a huge audience to be effective, it just has to be the right audience. I sure like their trendline for influencing politics, policy, media coverage, truth, etc, etc. The amount of change they’ve really caused in the world? Debatable, naturally.

    Tell me this, then: What content-based website would you say has been more important than TPM?

  3. kelly says:

    I don’t think there is a better blog, or site, out there for understanding behind the scenes politcs, and getting the real goods on Washington folks. I’m simply curious about how TPM is changing the world, because I’d like to think this is the tip of the iceberg and everything wil lget better moving forward.

    Just trying to figure out how TPM does that. It seems your lending weight to the “TPM breaking coverage” angle where TPM gets the goods and the rest of the media follows suit, then change actually happens. Or are you saying absent larger news organizations picking up the stories, TPM is able to influence events single handedly?

    Again, I love TPM, and think its amazing, been giving money since he started the muckraker and hired his first journalist. I do so because I feel like I’m in this special little media niche.

    Also, there is a concern I have with media, ALA music. And that is the Internet is fundamentally changing the distribution game, and TPM folks are able to speak directly to their niche and keep their message focused. (like powerline). And that despite TPM’s great coverage, at best they might always play the niche. this seems evident even on a commercial level. For example, TPM has chosen to solicit donations like NPR rather than use ad traffic to grow a business. I’m excited by the possibility he may create a new way of funding investigative journalism. Excited to read the results.

    I’d be a whole lot more excited if I saw the results of those efforts directly influence events. The evidence I have sen of that is their leads and stories breaking in the NYT after TPM uncovers something. Thats a good thing in and of itself….. and I guess it has changed the world. But will it CHANGE THE WORLD?

  4. kelly says:

    excerpt from TPM job position that sheds light on this discussion….

    We have two positions open. And I think we may be near to filling one. But we’ve got at least one more waiting to be filled. The job is in DC. You’d be part of our small team of reporter-bloggers who write for TPMmuckraker and you’ll be part of our expanded news coverage, which we’ll be rolling out over the next month.

    There’s a formal job announcement here. But let me make a personal pitch.

    If you’re a regular reader you know the kind of muckraking reporting we do on stories like the Abramoff scandal, the always-expanding Cunningham scandal, the US Attorney Purge and a lot else. We dig deep into stories we think matter; we stick with them; we have fun with them — and all following standards of journalism I’d be happy to stack against those of any other outfit in the profession.

    And we’re not only about scandal. We want to dig into what’s happening in Congress today. Find more stories that deserve more attention but aren’t getting it.

    We work really hard and have a lot of fun doing it. And our relationship with our readers, who do a great deal of the frontline research which feeds into our more traditional reporting, plays a critical role in allowing us to get a jump, frequently, on bigger news organizations. And there’s a lot of challenge and fun and satisfaction just operating in a new medium and playing some small role in creating it.

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