Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Josh Marshall and TPM: the George Polk award

Will Bunch at Attytood tells it well in A landmark day for bloggers:
The George Polk Awards are kind of like the Golden Globes of American journalism . Not as well known as those Oscars of the news business, the Pulitzer Prize, the Polk Awards are nevertheless probably a close second in terms of prestige, and this year I am especially blown away by the quality of the work they honor....

But I want to highlight one Polk Award that shows there are emerging models for using the very tool at the root of the turmoil of the news business -- the Internet -- as a newfangled way to re-invent investigative reporting -- by using new techniques that emphasize collaboration over competition and by working with readers and through collective weight of many news sources to expose government misconduct.

It would have seemed incredible a couple of years ago, but a George Polk Award was given this morning to a blogger.

Not just any blogger, of course. Josh Marshall (top, with his son Sam) of Talking Points Memo may have started back in 2000 as a kind of blogging stereotype, posting late at night from his small D.C. apartment and from the corner Starbucks and -- in just two years -- shining a light on the remarks that cost Sen. Trent Lott his GOP Senate leadership post, but he's turned his operation into much, much more.

Since 2002 Marshall has moved to New York and -- thanks to increasing ad revenue -- made Talking Points Memo into a new kind of journalistic enterprise for the 21st Century, hiring a staff of a half dozen talented young journalists and rewriting the rules with a mix of commentary and original muckraking while highlighting the work of other to focus like a laser on the big political questions.

Here's how and why Marshall and Talking Points Memo won a Polk Award today:

"His site,, led the news media coverage of the politically motivated dismissals of United States attorneys across the country. Noting a similarity between firings in Arkansas and California, Marshall (with staff reporter-bloggers Paul Kiel and Justin Rood) connected the dots and found a pattern of federal prosecutors being forced from office for failing to do the Bush Administration's bidding."

Hopefully, this acknowledgment of what one savvy blogger and his team have accomplished is a milestone that will speed the day when mainstream journalists realize that the best kind of blogger like Marshall is truly one of our own kind, using new tools and a new way of thinking to break a news story that otherwise might have not been discovered.

What follows is a beautiful tribute to and analysis of TPM's award-winning story, written last year. It concludes:
The beautiful thing about investigative reporting on blogs is narrowcasting, because a site like TalkingPointsMemo isn’t expected to be all-inclusive like the Washington Post or Time magazine. In the spring of 2007, Josh Marshall and Justin Rood and Paul Kiel and David Kurtz weren’t under any kind of moral obligation to cover all the news that’s fit to print about the French elections, the Virginia Tech massacre or even the mounting death toll in Iraq. Such issues were mentioned in short posts on occasion, but the bloggers knew that their readers -- and, frankly, the public record and ensuing debates -- were better served by running with the U.S. attorney’s scandal 24 hours a day. And why not? In a world of search engines and infinite cyberspace, any interested Web surfer can find the latest news from Paris or Blacksburg or Ramadi within a matter of seconds.
The award is great (TPM is a daily must-read) and this piece is a fitting tribute. Check it out

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At 8:53 PM, February 20, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

It's a well-earned reward. Marshall and his team have done great work.


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