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Is that really your newspaper? Media lines are blurring

Many of you treasure your “legitimate” media.

Last week, I asked whether the Huffington Post had joined the growing group of influential media in this country. The reaction in private messages was split, with more traditional-minded consumers of news offering a decided “No!”

Their opinion was based less on HuffPo’s popularity – it attracts 13 million readers a month – and more on the website’s approach to journalism. The website repurposes news that others report, covers current events via the blog posts of volunteers and publishes the posts of journalists on its own staff.

The New York Times magazine recently published a well-done article on Mike Allen of Politico, another popular web-based news source. In the profile, reporter Mark Leibovich is lavish in his praise of Allen’s e-mail “tipsheet” Playbook, which he says “has become the principal early-morning document for an elite set of political and news-media thrivers and strivers.”

Remember, this is a New York Times reporter saying that a newsletter from a website is a “must read” in Washington.

“Allen refers to his readership as ‘the Playbook community,’” Leibovich wrote. “He appeared wounded one morning in March when I suggested to him that his esoteric chronicle may reinforce a conceit that Washington is a closed conclave. No, no, he protested. Playbook is open, intimate. No one even edits it before it goes out, he said, which adds to his ‘human connection’ to ‘the community.’ ”

Today, the New York Times announced that it would begin hosting the popular political blog and news aggregator FiveThirtyEight and make its founder a regular contributor to the paper and its magazine.

The media lines are blurring, blogs and websites are becoming essential sources of news and information. The walls between legitimate and established media are crumbling and coverage is becoming “more intimate.”

So, forget about influential media. As we work to put blurred lines into focus, how have the media changed in the past two years, and is it making coverage “more intimate?”

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