I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's occasional blog posts and been surprised by how frequently I've disagreed with him. I read most of his articles in the New Yorker and generally think they're great.
Anyway, his latest post is a good one in which he supports his argument made elsewhere that blogging -- especially political blogging -- would be nothing without the mainstream media. Of course he's right and he's also right when he says there's nothing wrong with this at all.
Blogging is a discussion that builds out of our exposure to current events on a broad scale. Of course it's the mainstream media that makes the investment in bringing us the news, and that's essential. But what we do with it afterwards is nevertheless adding another layer of understanding and analysis through conversation and critique.
Anyhow, perhaps the area of political blogging that gets closest to standing alone is municipal politics. I've covered many events where there was no mainstream media present, and offered both news and commentary on my blog. Nevertheless, the vast majority of my local writings have relied on things I've read in the (online) newspaper.
If there were no news media, I'm sure we'd have individual bloggers going off and telling us what happened here and there. But we would get tired of some events being missed. We'd get tired of not knowing whose view was accurate. We'd get tired of sloppy work. Eventually new systems would evolve and trusted organizations would emerge. If there weren't professional journalists, we'd have to create them.