Paper: Drudge Made New Media as Important as Legacy Outlets
A new study that examined the disruptive influence Twitter is having on modern political campaigns revealed that political operatives believe the Drudge Report has made new media outlets as important as—or more important than—the legacy outlets the eponymous website formed to challenge.
CNN reporter Peter Hamby published a paper for Harvard's Kennedy School of Government titled, "Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus? Searching for a better way to cover a campaign."
In it, Hamby reveals the influence new media websites, like the left-leaning BuzzFeed for Democrats, are having in a political era in which information travels faster and further than ever before. However, as the political tacticians Hamby interviewed argued, those outlets may not have the influence they do had it not been for the success of the Drudge Report.
Reporting on frustrations many in the political world have with stories that are published on non-legacy outlets—and how Twitter can amplify such stories—Hamby observed that once a story has a link in the new media age, it could make it onto the influential Drudge Report and be, "most importantly, pumped directly into the Twitter feeding frenzy where influencers lived."
“In today’s media age, Buzzfeed is just as important as The New York Times, and the price of doing business is cheaper,” Mo Elleithee, "a Democratic strategist who was Hillary Clinton’s traveling press secretary in 2008," told Hamby. “All I need is the link. Matt Drudge taught us that. The Internet takes care of the rest.”
Mitt Romney's campaign officials agreed.
“A link is a link,” Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, told Hamby. “I’ve said this a million times. I used to say it going back to, like, 2004. A link is a link, dude.”
Hamby wrote, "While blogs and news websites had been serious players in past campaigns, it was only this cycle that many seasoned reporters realized their print content was going mostly unnoticed." Those interviewed for his report said they would often get instant feedback and pushback for their tweets or stories that were online, but rarely—if ever—for stories that were solely in print.
Drudge has been most responsible for the mainstream media losing their influence as gatekeepers.
In 2012, Sarah Palin said Drudge gave birth to citizen journalism and predicted "new media" was the future when he challenged the legacy media and the "Democrat Media Complex" with a modem and website by publishing the story about Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky in 1998 that legacy outlet Newsweek had spiked. In the years since, mainstream media reporters have observed that the Drudge Report, like Twitter is becoming on a smaller scare, often serves as America's assignment editor.