Twenty minutes later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Laura Olson wrote, "So those without ID will use provisional ballots without having to later show ID; free ID issuing, voter education will continue." Longtime Franklin and Marshall political analyst Terry Madonna tweeted that "Pa. voter ID law partially upheld but big element in decision - voters can vote without legislatively enacted ID."
And John Micke, emcee of the Allentown Morning Call's Capital Ideas blog, was telling followers he'd be on NPR's Here and Now regarding the decision.
In today's media world, that's the arc. All events are twofold: there's the event itself - and the universe of reaction exploding through the Twitterverse, blogosphere, and app-mosphere.
Stoking networks. "The main function of blogs is not to report," says Richard Davis, professor of political science at Brigham Young University, and author of Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics. "Very few bloggers do any reporting whatsoever. Their real impact lies as analyzers, disseminators, and filters, reactors, parts of an information network."
Analyzers and reactors: Here's Bob Jordan of the New Jersey blog Capitol Quickies: "Maybe it's not out of the realm of possibility for Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker to look at the 2013 gubernatorial race, with both saying, 'I got this!' "
Millions of blogs, innumerable political blogs: They've been part of the culture since 1997, when the word blog - from web log - was born.
Disseminators? Antoinette J. Pole, assistant professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, and author of Blogging the Political, says, "No doubt about it: Matt Drudge was a conduit for information on Monica Lewinsky. Blogs helped end the career of [Senate Majority Leader] Trent Lott in 2002," when bloggers such as Glenn Reynolds and Atrios kept alive racially provocative Lott statements. Andrew Breitbart helped drive Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) out of Congress in 2011 by viralizing his ill-advised self-portraits in skivvies. "Those," says Pole, "are some of the blogs' biggest hits."
Filters. Think of all the blogs that collect and crunch numbers for you, such as Real Clear Politics or the New York Times' Fivethirtyeight.com, by the superlative Nate Silver.
"Blogs have changed the way we talk about politics," Davis says. "They've introduced a freewheeling, unbuttoned tone, much-copied in print and TV venues. Cable TV news, especially, seeks to capture that spontaneous blogger feeling." Sean Hannity of Fox News, Rachel Maddow of NBCNews.com, and many more try to capture blog insouciance in their on-air personas.
"The personal nature of blogs makes them different from traditional political writing," says Charlie Mahtesian, national politics editor and blogger for Politico. He's been at his news-analysis blog only a few months. "There's an exuberance, an edge, to the voice. As a longtime reporter, I'm still getting used to it."
"The bad side," says Davis, "is that the blogs have legitimized shrillness and negativity. And you see that part, too, throughout our discourse."
Who reads. "All I can say is that I'm constantly surprised by the range of people who read me," says Andrew Sullivan, a self-described conservative whose blog, the Dish, appears on the Daily Beast. "It's a little gulp-inducing to realize the president reads it daily."
Sullivan's site can average around 1.3 million hits a day, Talking Points Memo around 400,000; Little Green Footballs 320,000; Daily Kos 300,000. If that doesn't seem like much next to, say, the 8.5 million audience for NBC Nightly News, you're looking at it the wrong way, says Davis: "It's not how many people read - it's who reads them. The political classes, the classes in power, do read them. Politicians, lobbyists, flacks, the Beltway establishment pay attention - and so do the other media." That's why politicians tweet and/or blog - all U.S. House and Senate members for Pennsylvania, for example.
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, says Twitter is a case in point. "American users on Twitter are in the single digits percentagewise," he says. "But political writers, pundits, and people who shape the political discussion follow it. That means the campaigns pay close attention. It's the old axiom of politics: You don't know what's going to make a difference, so you have to flood all zones."
Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America and author of Bloggers on the Bus, says that since that 2009 book, "Twitter has become, in many ways, the epicenter of the media and political debates in America," the "online meeting place for a continuous and interactive conversation.
"Our site attracts the political crowd in Harrisburg," says Eric Boehm, bureau chief of PAIndy. "The lawmakers, staffers, lobbying firms, special interest groups, anyone in those circles."
Micke of Capitol Ideas says, "Political professionals, the people who're paid to know, they are our primary audience. But there are plenty of people out there who just want to know this stuff."
Hit counters, comments, e-mail, and references in other blogs and in print provide feedback - and signs of influence.
"It sounds strange, in this age of the supposed death of print, but we really value it when newspapers use our material," says Boehm. "That helps give us credibility and respect. We get more eyeballs if a piece gets into print than it'll get online."
And what bigwigs do can also tell you something. Boehm says, "Legislators like Michael Vereb [R., Montgomery County] have taken our statistics on school district reserve funds and made a whole news conference of it."
Speaking of Vereb, he accorded Micke perhaps the ultimate kudos to a blogger: He named a golfing fund-raiser after him. "That tells you," says Micek with a laugh, "he's reading you."
The multiplatform life. The bloggers themselves live life across platforms. It gets crazy. Dave Weigel, a blogger for Salon, MSNBC, and other venues, says, "I have an office where I file longer-form blogs. I tweet while waiting for a bus or a train. How do I keep up? I'm single and don't have kids."
Dick Polman, a blogger for NewsWorks, a dedicated tweeter, and a weekly columnist for The Inquirer, says: "You're always on, always on duty. At any idle moment, I'm checking Twitter to see what's going on. There's a deadline every second."
Contact John Timpane at 215-854-4406 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter, @jtimpane.