Leslie Graves emailed me earlier today with an interesting point: The institutional Right is finally spending money online, but there's still a mis-alignment between the organizations and the Rightroots.
[L]egacy orgs are starting to be active online...like righty e-activists have always wanted them to do ... but for the most part, they are not doing the things online that we wish they were doing. ... Thus, there is no love lost between the conservative e-activism community and the orgs. [A]ll this money being spent ... finally ... online but generally not doing the things that e-activists probably would prefer be done.
The institutional Right has realized there's a new battlefield and they have finally moved into it. But I'm reminded a bit of the British troops versus the Colonists in the American Revolution (the analogy is tactical, not political). The Left built new institutions and adapted their tactics to the new battlefield - guerilla warfare, as it were - while the Right is trying to port over the institutional cultures and tactics that they have built up over generations, regardless of the new battlefield.
Andrew Breitbart's Big Government and Michelle Malkin's Hot Air are excellent examples of good, innovative projects on the Right. We need more guerilla media, like Breitbart is doing. And Malkin had the right idea with Hot Air - take successful, iconoclastic bloggers (Ed Morrissey and AllahPundit), give them free rein (rather than pandering and red meat) and build around them.
The continuing cultural divide between the Left and Right approach to online media is best illustrated by this: While organizations on the Right tend to hire a single blogger (generally from internal or junior political staff, rather than the blogosphere), organizations on the Left very often (a) hire successful bloggers and give them freedom, and/or (b) have very large staffs focused on muckraking, research and blogging. Huffington Post has something close to 50. Talking Points Memo has a staff of close to 20...and they're expanding. Think Progress has something like 14-17 people working on their 3 blogs and daily email. Media Matters has a staff of many dozens, most aimed directly at the web.
The Right cannot invest in simply pushing an institutional message; the Right has to invest in adding value. That means research, muckraking, fact-checking, policy wonkery, information organization and information activism. That's what it takes.