President Bush and online media’s growing impact

President Bush’s interview schedule on Wednesday offered a telling snapshot of the growing clout of on-line media.The president had three meetings with reporters on Wednesday – and two of the three were with journalists from on-line outlets.

Blogging for freedom

Bush was to meet with bloggers from Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, and Venezuela “to discuss their use of blogs to push for democratic change and greater freedom,” White House Press Secretary Dana Perino announced in her press briefing on Wednesday.

Six of the bloggers were to be in the Roosevelt Room with Mr. Bush, two were to be linked in by videoconference. The session was part of the administration’s commemoration of Human Rights Day.

The president was also to be interviewed by Tom Bevan and John McIntyre, founders of the RealClearPolitics website.  The non-partisan site is a favorite of political reporters.  It culls and organizes political news, commentary, and polling from around the country.

Filing for print and web

The president’s third interview Wednesday went to Washington Post sportswriter Liz Clarke, a NASCAR expert whose copy appears both in the capital’s dominant newspaper and on the Post’s website.

Of course, one day does not a trend make. “While he has spoken with bloggers and on-line reporters in the past, it is abnormal for President Bush to have two sessions with the on-line community in one day,” Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel said in an e-mail.

Evolving information sources

But, Mr. Stanzel noted, “Today’s meetings reflect the continuing evolution in how people in the United States and around the world are getting their news and information.  As more people turn away from traditional media outlets and gravitate to sources of information on the Internet, it is important for the President and members of his Administration to identify new avenues of communicating with the public.”

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