This election marks the shift of the balance of power – and not just from Republican to Democrat.  No, the bigger shift was marked by this kudo from Howard Dean:

The netroots community can be very proud.  They’re playing a bigger role.

Without the blogs, Jerry McInerny and Carole Shay (NH-1), would not
have won. Entirely grassroots effort, without support form the Party,
including us.

A big deal.

Here’s an even bigger deal. As you know, robocalls, flyers, low-ball
election techniques. We knew about that instantly because of the
blogs.  We are not sure (Repubs) did it more than in the past, but we
knew about it faster.  Updates every 10 minutes from people who called
1-888-DEM-VOTE. (or whatever).  We were able to get lawyers to polling
places immediately.

The instantaneousness of the blogs, of people who read the blogs,
who get that information to us, is a huge improvement over 2004.

Yeah, Howard Dean gets it – not surprising for a man who has been way, way ahead of the rest of the Democratic party, and is dragging them, blinking in the unexpected sunlight, from the grave of defeat and irrelevance that they had dug for themselves (although some mossbacks Just. Don’t. Get. It.)

No less a source than the New York Times agrees, saying:

That the blog now has a firm place in the choreography of national events —
and in elections perhaps more so than in any other cultural exercise — is a boon
to the democratic process, said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet
governance at Oxford
and a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society
at Harvard.

“In a lot of ways they’re helping to set the agenda for the mainstream media
in fast-moving events like this,” Mr. Zittrain said. “They just need to be able
to produce enough that’s credible quickly to give a lead.”

And then this sobering news from the disintegrating sandcastle that used to be the MSM,Baquet_farewell
where all the circulation is down and all the news is bad: the LA Times canned Dean Baquet, the editor who had stood up to the Tribune Corp. stooges who are demanding potentially devastating layoffs.  The Times is still a first-rate paper, one that only 20 years ago was derided for being "slow, gray and irrelevant."

But the problem with the Times is that it has defiantly stuck its fingers in its ears and screamed "Naa naa NAA I can’t HEAR YOU!!!" in regard to the realities of the New Media.  The LA Times has seen this as a war – when instead, it should have been reaching out to bloggers like LAObserved (which has great coverage of this mess) or LAVoice, and figured out a way to bring them (and their readers, who appreciate the breath of fresh air they provide) into the Times info cloud.

Meanwhile, up at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, management is looking for ways to cut corners, pinch pennies and stave off pension fund bankruptcy.

So amidst the jubilation, there is sadness – the atmosphere at the Times was reported to be:

Times reporters described the atmosphere at the paper as "dismal," "rock bottom"
and "like a crypt." "I can’t imagine how you could ruin the reputation of a
paper and kill morale more quickly in one fell swoop" than to fire Baquet, said
one Times staffer in the paper’s Washington bureau. "We’re all just dumbstruck."
Times reporters and editors spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared
for their jobs.

In the wake of the dismal circulation numbers, and the surging credibility of the blogosphere and New Media, the handwriting is no longer on the wall.  It is seared into the retinas of anyone paying attention.  Of anyone who is not willfully blind.

There are those who have been paying attention, who have been making the smart, interesting choices. They will be the ones still standing in five years.  I no longer think that the LA Times as we know it, will still be here when we hold our next mid-term elections.

So enjoy the coverage while you can.  The A section of the Times today was excellent. Well worth investing an hour’s worth of time to peruse, to find interesting stories and sidebars and analyses. And then bag this edition up into one of those poly bags they sell at comic book stores and sock it away.

Because this is the end of an era – in both politics and in journalism.

BTW – check out the excellent gallery of glum faces at Majikthise’s blog – and compare them with the LA Times photo gallery of faces in the LA Times newsroom.