Editorial: A Window into the Blogosphere

Dear AlterNet-izens,

Two weeks ago we sent you a survey seeking your opinion on weblogs or "blogs." Your response was overwhelming, with nearly 8,000 e-mails flooding our inbox.

The results were fascinating, and after cogitating over them for a good few days, we wanted to share them with you. A good percentage of you – 68 percent, in fact – are blog adherents. Your reasons for visiting blogs are that they keep you informed and that they go deeply into issues that you care about. Not surprisingly, AlterNet readers overwhelmingly visit political and/or general news blogs for their blog-reading pleasure. Over half of you spend between 2 and 10 hours a week checking news on the internet.

We were also excited to hear that 10 percent of you have your own blog, no doubt blazing trails through mainstream media hoopla to get to the dirty truth. We can't wait to hear more about them! Meanwhile, the blogs that you go to regularly are also some of our favorites. Here's the top ten list:

  • Daily Kos: "Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation," from Markos Moulistsas.

  • TomDispatch: "A regular antidote to the mainstream media," from Tom Englehardt.

  • Talking Points Memo: From Joshua Micah Marshall.

  • Atrios: Written by Duncan Black, a 32-year-old "recovering economist."

  • Wonkette: Written by Ana Marie Cox, this Washington, D.C.-based blog is a self-proclaimed "guide to DC politics and culture, sort of."

  • The Daily Howler: "A Socratic critique of the Washington Press corps" from Bob Somerby, a former editorial writer at the Baltimore Sun.

  • Juan Cole: "Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion" from Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan.

  • Liberal Oasis: "Where the Left is right and the Right is wrong."

  • My DD: A political blog from Jerome Armstrong and Chris Bowers.

  • This Modern World: First he did a syndicated cartoon and now Tom Tomorrow has a popular blog.

Now, those are just ten of your favorites – the blogosphere can be as confusing and chaotic as it is fast and fascinating. With at least 7 million blogs producing encyclopedias of information, opinion and garbage daily, it's too often a paralyzing prospect to choose which ones to read – and trust. After all, since anyone can create a blog it's nearly impossible for the casual visitor to determine the motivation or background of the blogger.

Without the blogs listed above, and others, it's doubtful we'd know about Jeff Gannon (aka James Guckert), the gay prostitute credentialed by the White House for its press briefings; or the controversial remarks about the alarming death rate of journalists in Iraq by CNN's (now ex-) news chief; or that one of the documents in a 60 Minutes II broadcast was not authentic.

Regardless of the position you take on these stories, the indisputable fact is that they were investigated and disseminated outside of and apart from the mainstream, or even independent, media. These stories were broken by blogs, an increasingly influential and largely citizen-driven force in the news.

Tomorrow's news is increasingly being discussed, shaped, and created by bloggers before it hits the newsstands – or even AlterNet. Many of you are eager to be a part of that discussion. That's why AlterNet is proud to take a leadership role in connecting our community with the blogosphere.

And so (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) ... inspired by your enthusiasm and your desire for up-to-the-minute and under-the-radar information we're excited to introduce our new service, from the blogosphere to your breakfast table: PEEK, the best of the blogs.

Written by our intrepid associate editor Evan Derkacz, PEEK is a digest of what the blog world is buzzing about. Take a look at it, you'll see a handy compendium of your favorite blogs – and perhaps you'll be introduced to some new ones. Each day, Evan will be digging through the dross for what's new, finding stories that haven't yet broken through the wall to the mainstream media. He'll be posting pithy blurbs for you to peruse – and then click through to dig deeper, or not – that's up to you.

In the survey, some of you conveyed your doubts about blogs. We don't see blogs – not now and not down the road – as a replacement for traditional journalism, but rather as a companion and complement to it. AlterNet's unique blend of news and analysis that you've come to rely on will remain unchanged.

But we do invite those of you who have expressed doubt to give blogs a try. PEEK will provide an invaluable service whether you're a first-timer, a casual web dabbler or a web veteran. It's interesting to note that although more than half of our readers were reluctant for AlterNet to jump into the blog world, the more familiar a reader was with blogs, the more likely they were to want more.

At their best, blogs bring a democratic element to the media and, as Democracy Now's Amy Goodman said in a recent AlterNet interview: "The more decentralized, the better; the more sources of information, the better." We agree. That's why we proudly offer PEEK.

We've made PEEK available to you in a number of ways. You'll be able to visit PEEK on the site (updated throughout the day), get a daily dose of it in your e-mail inbox or subscribe to it via an RSS feed. Don't be shy, subscribe now and you'll get a head start on approaching stories, witty commentary and the occasional satire.

We're excited to take this next step forward, and we'll be thrilled to hear your thoughts – take a look at PEEK and then give us some feedback – or just point us to your blog! Who knows, maybe your blog will be the next one on PEEK ...

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