In December 2002, Republican Senate leader Trent Lott said that if Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948 on a segregationist platform, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.” For four days, the press all but ignored his comments the New York Times, for instance, failed to mention them. The story looked ready to disappear into the ether. Then, all at once, the remarks were front-page news. Even President Bush scolded Lott, saying his words “do not reflect the spirit of our country.”
Why did Lott’s comments become a major story despite initially not registering with the mainstream press? This paper argues that online media, particularly running commentaries known as Web logs, were critical in keeping the story alive. What does this portend for journalism’s future? Was it merely an isolated incident? Or will cyberjournalists’ clout continue to increase — at the expense of the establishment press?
Full Article (PDF):Chris-Wright-Parking-Lott.pdf