Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Victory for the Burghosphere?

Over the Easter weekend, my household received yet another mailing from the City of Pittsburgh. This time, we were treated to an invitation to the grand re-opening of the new " sportsplex" at the Schenley Park oval. As you might expect, it announced it very large letters that our invitation was from none other than "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl" himself (so nice of him to think of me). But what truly astonished me was that, this time around, there wasn't a single picture of Mr. Ravenstahl anywhere at all on the card. No "hands on hips" image, no smiling "311 Response Line" picture, and only one mention of the interim mayor in the text. In fact, the only photograph was -- in an astonishing display of appropriateness -- a picture of the new Schenley Oval itself.

One might argue that, since City Councilmember Bill Peduto has pulled out of the Democratic mayoral primary, Mr. Ravenstahl no longer needed to plaster his photograph on every single city mailing. But I suspect that these particular postcards were ordered, and perhaps even printed, before Mr. Peduto dropped his bombshell on the local political landscape. If so, then the decision to leave Mr. Ravenstahl's smiling visage off of these announcements must have been motivated by other concerns.

It seems at least possible that the interim mayor's political handlers had finally had enough of all the blog and mainstream press attention that the earlier city mailings received. This might be yet another example of the positive role that blogs can play, even in a city as troubled as ours.


Bram Reichbaum said...

Discussion question for anyone who cares: the burghosphere usually fancies itself as motivating the MSM, inspiring them, whatever. It had been posed to me that when it came to mailings, the burghosphere was so hysterical and so shrill, it may have had the reverse effect; the MSM was sick of hearing it already, and didn't want to jump on a bandwagon that looked like ours. Thoughts?

Richmond K. Turner said...

If there was any story that peacefully coexisted in both the burgosphere and the local media, it was the one about these photographs. Obviously, the blogs were more shrill and faster to make the logical (and illogical) connections between the use of these photographs and Raventsahl's campaign.

But the MSM got started on this story late last year, and continued to come back to it as new examples kept finding their way into city mailboxes.

I rather doubt that the local press ever avoids a story simply because it appears on local blogs, regardless of the tone taken in the burghosphere. They may be prodded to cover something because it appears in the burghosphere, but I really don't think that they could be driven away from one by us.

When the MSM fails to cover a story, they have their own reasons for doing so. Cost, airtime, and page space all come into the equation. So do the ability to line up sources, confirm the facts, the story's percieved degree of importannce and the perceived level of interest among readers and viewers.

Blogs are often first because we don't need to worry about these things. But if we hit on a worthy story, it will make it into the mainstream press. They won't bury it just because some pajama-clad fattie like myself blogged about it at 3:00 the morning before.