Blogs aren't going to replace newspapers or anything else as primary providers of basic news. People who won't spend 15 minutes with the paper and can barely pay attention to five minutes of the local-news broadcast aren't going to invest all the time it would take to scour blogs and put the bits and pieces together into some kind of mental comprehensive report.
But we are starting to see what value blogs can provide. As bloggers begin to specialize and those interested in the specialties find them, communities of shared interests are being formed. Masson's Blog, for example, does about the best job of anybody of keeping track of pending legislation at the General Assembly. The Indiana Law Blog follows legal issues and state court cases. Advance Indiana pays attention to gay and transgender issues. And digests like the Indiana Blog Review and BlogNetNews, one with an editor and one an automatic aggregator, are letting us quickly check what some of our favorite bloggers are saying.
With this week's blizzard, we've seen another strength blogs. Several in Fort Wayne, including Fort Wayne Observed, Angry White Boy and one started just for the occasion by The News-Sentinel's Ryan Lengerich, were reporting from the heart of the storm with digital images. And Ryan was even carrying around a laptop to post his stories as soon as he could. I noticed many blogs around the state were providing the same service for their communities. These were reports between the evening and the morning paper, more detailed than radio, at least as interesting as TV, taken altogether showing aspects of the blizzard available nowhere else.
I certainly hope we have nothing more disastrous anytime soon, like another flood, but if we do, keep your eye on the blogs for even more comprehensive reporting than we saw this week. And I suspect the coming city election (which some might call an unnatural disaster) will see a strong blog presence as well. There will be more information about more aspects of the races available than at any time in the past. That increases the chances for an informed electorate, which may be the blogs' greatest contribution of all.