“There’s an inherent danger in not recognizing that the Internet is becoming much more video-based than text-based,” said Mr. Rasiej. “The new skill set that’s going to be required is ‘videracy,’ not just literacy. Bloggers who fail to understand the shifting dynamic do so at their own peril.”
Mr. Rasiej has faith that Mr. Marshall will succeed in the new medium. “Josh has already proven that he can build an audience online and that he doesn’t need the banner of The Washington Post or The New York Times above his name,” said Mr. Rasiej. “He is about to prove that the same is true in Internet video, where he doesn’t need CNN or PBS or MSNBC to get the eyeballs and the traffic necessary to build an audience.”
Jeff Jarvis, the founder of new media blog BuzzMachine.com, also thinks that Mr. Marshall is making a wise investment. “We’re all experimenting,” said Mr. Jarvis. “It’s a great time to be doing this. Web video is going to be critical to this world.”
Some more traditional journalists seem somewhat less certain. Nicholas Lemann, the dean of the Columbia Journalism School and the author of The New Yorker’s Wayward Press column, pointed out that Web video, like the Internet itself, is still in its infancy.
“It’s very, very early,” said Mr. Lemann. “The Web is miraculously large in its capabilities. It isn’t clear to me what kind of medium it will end up being when the dust settles 20 years from now.”
“If you said, simply, what’s in the ascendancy: traditional start-to-finish texts or visual, I’d say that visual is gaining ground faster than text at this moment,” said Mr. Lemann. “But I also think that whole other things we don’t see yet could wind up happening on the Web. So I don’t want to say ‘game over, video has won.’”
Mr. Marshall, for his part, said he felt at ease making the transition. “It’s not that I feel any immediate sense of being overtaken,” he said. “But the technology does move quickly. I’ve thought for about two years that video was a key thing that we needed to do much more of. So part of it is just keeping up with the evolution of the medium.”
In addition to the regular broadcasts of TPM TV, Mr. Marshall said that in the coming months he will be integrating more video clips from traditional news TV shows into the TPM blog. To this end, Mr. Marshall has outfitted TPM with a system that continuously records all of the major cable television news networks, plus one floating channel. Every two days, the footage loops back over itself like a security camera.
“One of the things that we’re trying to leverage is that we have this audience who write in and say, ‘Oh my god, this is what I saw,’” said Mr. Marshall. “As long as they get to us within a day or so, we can go back and get it.”
Recently, Mr. Marshall filmed a segment of TPM TV in which he encouraged his readers to hit the campaign trail with digital-video cameras. On the new site, there will be a place for users to easily upload their resulting footage.
“We’re not just looking for ‘Macaca’ moments,” said Mr. Marshall, referring to the damaging video snippet of a speech by former Senator George Allen of Virginia that upended his re-election campaign. “We’d love to have that. But it’s not principally what we’re looking for. We’re looking to get a more vérité sense of the day-to-day campaign trail.”
Mr. Marshall leaned back in his chair. Behind him, a digital camera peeked out from the top of his desktop computer. For a while, Mr. Marshall was shooting many of the early TPM TV episodes using the monitor-mounted camera. In those episodes, an orange lava lamp can be seen resting conspicuously in the background. Mr. Marshall has since switched to a different spot in the office for filming. Now he typically stands in front of a row of wall-mounted flat-screen televisions. The lava lamp is nowhere to be seen.
“There’s no logic to it,” said Mr. Marshall. “We’re just experimenting.”