Juan Cole — who is, we learned this week, the favourite blogger of both Seymour Hersh and John Simpson — looks at the role of American bloggers in ensuring that the U.S. media picked upthe Sunday Times’</a> reporting on the so-called Downing Street Memo:

If this story had broken in the 1970s, it probably would just have been buried by the mainstream US press and remained an oddity of UK’s Fleet Street. But here you have the Times of London actually acknowledging the wind under its sails from the blogging world!

[Times reporter Michael] Smith not only acknowledges the pressure put on the US corporate media by the bloggers, but he also points to a virtual social movement around the DSM, with emails and petitions circulating in the hundreds of thousands and giving the Democrats in Congress their first high-profile investigatory opportunity of the Bush presidency.

The seeping of blogistan into the pages of the Times of London with regard to its own scoops seems to me a bellwether of the kinds of changes that are being produced in our information environment by the blogging phenomenon. The gatekeepers at the New York Times and the Washington Post can no longer decide whether a leak is a story or a non-story. The public decides what a story is.

Cole’s analysis is also fair to American journalists, noting that they had to be careful about running a story where they could not get hold of a copy of the original document that was the key to a politically-sensitive story leaked in the midst of an election — remember where that got Dan Rather?