Josh Marshall: Historian blogger predicts digital media takeover

Historians in the News

Josh Marshall ’91, creator of the center-left political blog Talking Points Memo (TPM), answered questions from history professor Anthony Grafton about his publication and the evolution of news from paper to the digital realm.
Grafton introduced the site as a “hybrid, the Prius of media organizations” that combines traditional reporting with opinion journalism and muckraking to make “real interventions in politics.”

Marshall said that TPM relies on its close communication with its relatively small readership, which provides constant, up-to-date, “frontline intelligence” and allows the site to compete with other news organizations.

The site admits to having a Democratic perspective, a quality that draws criticism from those concerned with “straight” journalism. Marshall, however, does not view his opinionated reporting as a problem.

“Journalistic objectivity is a highly problematic concept,” Marshall said, adding that a “guided viewpoint” can “bring a lot more to the table ... that [has] sort of fallen away from the way journalism [is] practiced.”

“We’re going back to a journalism model in which you have a lot more voices ... a lot of them smaller,” he said. TPM gained fame though its investigation of the firing of a number of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration. Marshall’s coverage of the scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, won him the Polk Award for Legal Reporting....

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