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O.C.'s First Blogged Election
Online pundits mature as players in the campaign to replace Rep. Cox

[Jubal] 10/6/05

The campaign to succeed former Rep. Chris Cox marked a milestone. As a local blogger wrote a few weeks ago, this contest has been Orange County's first "blogged" election, and give us some insight into the role the blogosphere will play in Orange County politics.

While the blogosphere - the realm of online opinion diaries - is an established player in national politics, Orange County, despite its wealth and technological sophistication, had lagged behind other metropolitan areas in development of an indigenous blogosphere. That began changing late year when OCBlog.net, which focuses on political and government news in Orange County, began attracting a growing following among the county's politerati.

Several more political blogs since have sprung up, including a couple devoted exclusively to today's special election in the 48th Congressional District. Orange County's growing blogosphere now provides county politicos of all stripes with more comprehensive, real-time sense of what is happening in county government and politics than O.C.'s mainstream media.



Proprietor of the Orange County Insider and the OC Blog featured at Red County [go to Jubal index]

This special election is a perfect example. Until now, campaign coverage in Orange County followed a familiar pattern. Our two daily newspapers, the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times, would devote several stories over as many weeks to the county's more high-profile races and lump the smaller races into round-up stories. Although the Register runs a weekly political Buzz column, the Times' coverage of county politics is a shadow of what once was.

This dearth of political coverage frustrates Orange County's politerati, that stratum of government officials, public-affairs professionals, business leaders, civic and political activists, donors, opinion leaders and plain old political junkies who thrive on what the MSM (mainstream media) consider too "inside baseball" to warrant coverage. While small in terms of absolute numbers, it's a demographic that exercises disproportionate influence.

Into this void stepped blogs such as OC Blog, Powder Blue Report, Tin Star, The Successor Project, Orange-County Courant and CA-48 to meet that demand for campaign news, analysis and updates. Consequently, it has been possible to follow the campaign to succeed Chris Cox in almost real time, to the point where reading a story on the campaign in the daily newspapers evokes a feeling of déjà vu because you already saw it on the blogs.

This is not to say Orange County's young blogosphere will ever supplant the MSM. For one, the blogs rely on the newspapers for much of their information, which they then flesh out and analyze. Also, the blogs cannot match the daily newspapers in terms of resources and sheer numbers of readers - many of whom have no idea what a blog is. Still, Orange County blogs will continue to meet the powerful demand for political/government information, while the dailies try to figure out how to cope with this new medium.

To be fair, O.C.'s version of the MSM hasn't been completely indifferent to the rise of the blogosphere. The Register Commentary section launched the Orange Punch blog last fall, which has become one of the most heavily trafficked sections of OCRegister.com.

That same dynamic drives the growth of the Orange County blogosphere. Increasingly, the first thing the O.C. politerati does every morning is log onto one of our homegrown political blogs to find out what is going on in government and politics. These blogs and their expanding readership have already influenced how campaigns waged the battle of perception in today's special election - and will doubtless exert greater sway as we near the statewide Nov. 8 special election, a possible special election for the 35th Senate District and the 2006 contests for two supervisor seats and numerous council races.CRO

This piece first appeared in the Orange County Register

copyright 2005 Jubal - OC Blog


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