Ten Years Ago Today:Drudge Ended the Reign of the Media Gate-keepers

On the night of January 17, 1998, Matt Drudge revealed that Newsweek editors had spiked a story about Bill Clinton and an intern named Monica Lewinsky. His story ended once and for all the gate-keeper ability, if not the mentality, of the mainstream media elite. He later said “We are all newsmen now.”

It was denied. He was derided, attacked for his political views, and for working out of a $600-a-month rented Hollywood apartment. He was right. Today his website reputedly makes him $500,000-a-month and Drudge lives in an exclusive penthouse in Florida.

Love him or hate him, you can’t dismiss him. Having been accused of emulating Drudge, all Guido will say is – “you bet!” As a fan and voracious reader, Guido is happy to say he has learnt a lot from the master – namely what matters if you want to be a news maker:

  1. Content. Original relevant content. Go get the story.
  2. Don’t follow the herd. Have a clear unique online personality.
  3. Updating regularly is hard work, if you have nothing new to say, nobody will read you. Link to hot news at least.
Conventional journalists in the MSM have shifted from sneering to fearing, from deriding to envying. Technology means that any talented trouble maker with a modem can achieve Karl Marx’s dream: ownership of the means of production and distribution. The internet requires no printing presses, delivery vans, distributors or news stands. No editorial restrictions, no proprietor, no once-a-day news cycle.

Drudge has millions of readers and more influence than any other single newsmaker in America. Ironically his ability to direct reader traffic means he is now probably the biggest gate-keeper to conventional journalism today. The Pew Research Centre produced some data on the influence of news sources on the 2008 Presidential campaign. When they asked where Americans got their campaign information online, after the internet portals the New York Times website (6%) was the most cited source, confirming that it is after all the most influential paper in the free world. Second came the Drudge Report (3%), not bad for a three man operation (one of whom is based in London) and way ahead of the Washington Post website (1%). The twentieth century reign of the MSM gate-keepers is over.

Matt Drudge’s greatest achievement was not exposing Bill Clinton, it was deposing the MSM. Guido salutes you Matt, you made him a newsman.




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