Thursday, January 13, 2005

When the Revolution started

In the wake of the Thornburgh-Boccardi report on the "60 Minutes" mess, a lot of people are talking about the decline of the mainstream media and the revolution this entails. People talk about alternate information sources like Fox News, the Internet, talk radio. But the first stage of that revolution was none of these. And the father of the revolution was not Roger Ailes or Rush Limbaugh or Matt Drudge. It was another guy entirely.

C-SPAN began broadcasting the procedings of Congress on March 19, 1979. Its founder, Brian Lamb, believed that something needed to be done to close the "information gap" between citizens and their government, so he came up with the idea of providing unfiltered coverage of government in action. The operation started on a shoestring and has always been run with voluntary contributions from cable providers. "Open source" journalism indeed!

And who was the first political figure to understand that the world had changed? Newt Gingrich.


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