- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2005

Intent on defining their spot in the news landscape, bloggers gather today at the Brookings Institute to define their “evolving role in the press” and, of course, trade live blogs, and maybe a few left jabs.

On the roster: Wonkette, Redstate.org, Donkey Rising and Captain’s Quarters, among others.

“Bloggers” — those who operate Web logs — are Internet-based scribes who share news, politics, rumors, theories, asides and blunders minus the traditional time or production constraints of print or network broadcasts.

“This is blogapalooza. We may not be the first to examine the impact of blogging, certainly. But in the think-tank world, we’re the first,” Brookings spokesman Patrick Gavin said yesterday.

“We’re not intending this as a left-wing and right-wing debate, but more a gathering of bloggers from different realms, focusing on the impact of blogging on the traditional American news media,” he said.

But panelist and media analyst Jack Shafer — editor-at-large for Slate, the nation’s first real Internet-based publication — can only shrug.

“The fact that Brookings is doing such a symposium automatically confirms the fact that political blogging is over. If something turns up in the dusty halls of a think tank, then it’s already passe,” Mr. Shafer observed yesterday.

Nevertheless, he’ll join five other “old and new media” journalists onstage at Brookings, including Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service, syndicated columnist and blogger Andrew Sullivan, Jodie Allen of the Pew Research Center and Ana Marie Cox — the online gossip “Wonkette” herself.

Called “potty-mouthed” in a New York Times account, the saucy Miss Cox represents a burgeoning, well-organized and more commercially oriented blog genre, described as “one of a series of niche upscale online media titles” by New York-based Gawker Media — which sells advertising on sister sites Gawker, Defamer, Gridskipper and Screenhead.

In addition, six “prominent bloggers” of various political persuasions will “live blog” the forum via the Internet, their commentary flashed to an onstage screen.

The online contingent includes Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters, Ruy Teixeira of Donkey Rising and Josh Trevino of Redstate.org — the last of which defines its mission as “the construction of a Republican majority in the United States.”

Blogging is still new to Americans, at least according to a Gallup poll released in mid-March, which found that only 7 percent were “very familiar” with the practice.

Though there will be perhaps a hundred people in the audience of the District-based Brookings, Mr. Gavin had no prediction on how many will tap into the session via the Internet.

“Dozens? Scores? Hundreds? Millions? I don’t know. But anyone can participate by e-mailing in a question or comment to newmedia@brookings.edu between 10 a.m. and noon” today, he said.

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