Blogger, Sans Pajamas, Rakes Muck and a Prize
By NOAM COHEN
Of the many landmarks along a journalist’s career, two are among those that stand out: winning an award and making the government back down. Last week, Joshua Micah Marshall achieved both.
On Tuesday, it was announced that he had won a George Polk Award for legal reporting for coverage of the firing of eight United States attorneys, critics charged under political circumstances. The “tenacious investigative reporting sparked interest by the traditional news media and led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,” the citation read.
Also last week, the Justice Department put him back on its mailing list for reporters with credentials after removing him last year.
Mr. Marshall does not belong to any traditional news organization. Instead, he is creating his own. His Web site, Talking Points Memo (www.talkingpointsmemo.com), is the first Internet-only news operation to receive the Polk (though in 2003, an award for Internet reporting was given to the Center for Public Integrity), and certainly one of the most influential political blogs in the country.
To scores of bloggers, it was a case of local boy makes good. Many took it as vindication of their enterprise — that anyone can assume the mantle of reporting on the pressing issues affecting the nation and the world, with the imprimatur of a mainstream media outlet or not. And most reassuringly, it showed that fair numbers of people out there were paying attention.
Mr. Marshall was recognized for a style of online reporting that greatly expands the definition of blogging. And he operates a long way from the clichéd pajama-wearing, coffee-sipping commentator on the news. He has a newsroom in Manhattan and seven reporters for his sites, including two in Washington.
Yet Mr. Marshall does not shy away from the notion of blogging. “I think of us as journalists; the medium we work in is blogging,” he said, something that can involve matters as varied as the tone of the writing or the display of articles in reverse chronological order. “We have kind of broken free of the model of discrete articles that have a beginning and end. Instead, there are an ongoing series of dispatches.”