Blogs, Talk Radio and the “Conservative Media Infrastructure”

Riffing off an essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, “Conservative Blogs Are More Effective,” Virginia Blogger Lowell Feld (“Raising Kaine“) has analyzed the impact of the “conservative” and “liberal” wings of the blogosphere in Virginia’s elections. His conclusion: The conservative blogs are more numerous, more active and better organized. But the Democratic blogs in Virginia more than held their own through the power of their ideas.

Feld’s thoughts stirred some observations on the part of Norm Leahy (“One Man’s Trash“): The Kaine campaign, he notes, reached out to the blogging community more aggressively than the Kilgore campaign did. Wrote Leahy: “While there were more, and more active, GOP blogs, the Kilgore campaign had no strategy that I can tell for including, networking or otherwise engaging the people willing to blog on their behalf.”

Both posts are worth reading. I would add only one note. The NYT Sunday Magazine piece attributed the power of the conservative blogs to their ability to plug into the “right-wing media infrastructure,” primarily talk radio. No such right-wing media infrastructure exists in Virginia as it relates to state-local issues. There are conservative talk shows — the Mac Watson show on WRVA in Richmond is the one I’m familiar with — but none are statewide in reach. There is nothing analogous to Rush Limbaugh. Furthermore, based on the limited airtime that I’ve heard, Watson doesn’t draw his material from blogs.

WRVA is counter-balanced here in Richmond by the local National Public Radio station, which works in some local content, including weekly interviews with Times-Dispatch reporter Jeff Schapiro. The content, from my limited observation, is less overtly opinionated. The only other radio station that airs local political content is the local “Indy” radio station, WRIR, which is inclined to the liberal/progressive viewpoint. Momentarily taking leave of their senses, the producers invited me for an interview. But the market share for that station is tiny. I have not yet encountered one person who heard that interview.

Local talk-radio appears to be animated in Northern Virginia — conservative commentator Linda Chavez interviewed me once, but I know nothing more than the fact that she hosts a talk show. Are there other talk-radio shows around the state that address state-local issues? Are they liberal or conservative? Are they plugged into the blogs? Can my fellow bloggers enlighten me?

Overall, it seems safe to conclude that the “conservative media infrastructure” that exists nationally has no counterpart for exploring state/local issues in Virginia. Thus, the critical transmission belt for migrating ideas from the blogosphere to the public consciousness is still missing. Virginia’s blogs remain on the periphery of public opinion, though, given the incredible progress we’ve made in 2005, that may well change.

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8 responses to “Blogs, Talk Radio and the “Conservative Media Infrastructure””

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    “the critical transmission belt for migrating ideas from the blogosphere to the public consciousness does not yet exist in Virginia”.

    Thank you, Time Warner, Viacom, Comcast Corp., Clear Channel, Radio One, News Corp., Gannett Co., Tribune Co., etc. for not allowing ideas from the blogosphere into your consciousness, right wing or otherwise.

    Perhaps one reason this is happening is due to the fact that the media monopolies haven’t quite figured out the whole blog thing. Or, stated another way, they haven’t figured out a way to make money from it.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Why would anyone blog on an outlet that primarily agrees with them?

    Blogs will reach their apex of utility when the discussions are so vigorous that you can’t tell what the slant is.

  3. Mencken's Friend Avatar
    Mencken’s Friend

    No “conservative media structure” in Virginia?

    And how, pray tell, does one classify the editorial staff of the Richmond Times Dispatch? The bomast of Mackenzie and his ideological progeny on that paper and its corporate siblings hangs over the state like a gaseous cloud.

    Add to this the various talk radio stations like WRVA in Richmond and WFIR in Roanoke, the Byrd newspapers which include the Winchester Star and the Harrisonburg News Record and various cable franchises and you have the makings of a fair sized cabal.

    Mind you, I don’t maintain they’re smart–just numerous.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    I don’t how many posters there are compared to how many readers but I know just about everyone in my office reads Bacon’s Rebellion. We, of course, have a good mix of liberals and conservatives. I wonder why the politicians don’t set up their own blogs. Put the issues out there and get some ideas. This media would be a good way to get more ideas from the citizens on how to effectively reach their goals. Not everyone can attend the town meetings and not everyone is represented when they form panels and boards from private industry executives. People who read the blogs also have the luxury of being able to learn other peoples’ views. When a budget is defined or a bill is submitted, everyone would not be asking “why did they do that”.

    It would certainly be cheaper and more effective than closed door committees and town hall meetings where the questions are scripted and the answers are elusive. It could be a very effective inexpensive way of getting more ideas.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    The most dangerous thing for politicians is to actually have to deal in ideas. That’s why they don’t blog, and their websites are pretty empty.

  6. Anonymous 3:39:

    I love it.

  7. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Mencken’s Friend, You are, of course, correct to say that there are newspapers in Virginia with conservative editorial pages. (I’ll leave to another day the issue of how conservative their news coverage.) My purpose was not to deny the existence of these conservative editorial pages but to note that there is no “transmission” belt from the conservative blogs to public opinion via those conservative publications. The Times-Dispatch has acknowledged the existence of the political blogs, but has not engaged them in any way. Trust me, I would love to take credit (for myself or my fellow bloggers) for influencing the editorial slant of the Times-Dispatch. But I can’t. They were conservative long before we came along, and they don’t seem to pick up on our arguments.

    What influence blogs exercise in Virginia seems to occur by means of connecting directly with our readers, including a number of legislators, lobbyists and activists.

  8. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Anon 3:39 said it brilliantly. Good blogs are an exchange of ideas, not epithets. Great blogs engage many minds with different ideas.

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