Thursday, March 15, 2007

Who the heck is Matt Drudge and why does all the news I read seem to come from his site?

Who's asking: James Lamb, Virginia Beach, VA

Matt Drudge, 40, runs the Drudge Report, an online compendium of the news of the day. The Drudge Report began around 1994 as an e-mail newsletter of gossip; it became a freestanding website in 1997.

Drudge himself has no academic journalism credentials, but this is one of many things that make him the archetype of the Internet information age. If you read Drudge regularly (and most people I know do), you'll see that he doesn't do much original reporting; instead, he links to stories from other sources. The Drudge Report site is a portal, a menu that offers what Matt Drudge considers to be the most important news of the day.

In this respect, Drudge is not a reporter but an editor, and an extremely powerful one. Matt Drudge decides whether a political gaffe gets big attention, or gets ignored. As an example, Howard Dean's "Yee-AH!" speech might have been just another political rally, if Drudge hadn't blasted it all over his home page.

He's probably not anyone I'd want to hang out with, but I admire Matt Drudge. He was among the first to harness the Internet's vast spectrum of information, and his site is a public service. What he does is essentially the same as the way many smaller newspapers operate: where they can't afford to do their own reporting, what they publish is a collection of stories from the wire services. Drudge just has more news outlets at his disposal.

If people accuse him of pettiness, nastiness, personal agendas and sloppy fact-checking -- well, that's what journalism was, before journalism became an academic discipline. Good journalism gets adversarial, when it's about speaking truth to power.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Everybody needs to watch "October Road," on ABC tonight at 10:00 p.m. "October Road" is the latest work of my friend Gary Fleder, who directed, and his longtime colleague Scott Rosenberg, who wrote Beautiful Girls (among other works).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Saw "October Road" and loved it. nice work.

Richard B.

John Schramm said...

I wasn't going to watch October Road, because I was afraid I would like it, and it got bad reviews.

Well, I did like it.

The bad review thing doesn't bother me, not in the sense that I won't try a new show. I think most TV reviewers are too opinionated. But they seem to be right about which new shows will make it past the six episode beta test. Maybe people listen to them. I dunno.

I hope they're wrong about October Road. It's good TV.