Veteran blogger and developer, Dave Winer (@davewiner), hit on why bloggers are so important to reporters in a post last week.

Bloggers are your sources. They are the people who previous generations of reporters had to reach by telephone. These days reporters can skim hundreds of perspectives on the web, prioritized by search engines. The reach of reporters in the age of blogging is far greater that it was in the age of the telephone. Understanding this synergy is key to understanding how news will evolve in the future.

Any good law blogger will tell you that they’re regularly called by reporters. Mainstream reporters from national and regional newspaper, reporters from trade publications covering niche industries, and reporters from legal publications.

The more focused the niche and the more the influence the law blogger has grown by sharing their passion, insight, and commentary, the more they are contacted.

Savvy law bloggers who follow relevant reporters and their publications, via RSS feeds and Twitter, and engage the reporters via blog posts and Twitter nurture relationships with reporters. Such bloggers are establishing real and genuine trust with reporters.

Such relationships, built by each side helping the other, were unheard of before blogging. Today lawyers are helping reporters by getting the reporter’s stories shared via social media – whether on the lawyer’s blog or via Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Lawyers, of course, love being quoted in newspapers and trade publications.

Reporters covering the law have never had it so good with the sources available to them. Lawyers are covering detailed niches never covered before and from what I see on LexBlog’s LXBN Network, these lawyers are jumping on relevant stories and publishing blog posts the day before stories are being published by reporters.

I am not criticizing reporters for trailing a lawyer’s coverage, I am just pointing out the opportunity to call the lawyer or quote the lawyer’s blog post.

For blogging lawyers, don’t diminish the role you have. Rather than think you’d be better off publishing an article or a post on an online mainstream news site, do your own thing through blogging.

You’ll build your own influence and brand as well as be there as a source for reporters on such mainstream news sites.

Look at how the world has changed since the advent of law blogging. Many law firms had PR professionals (many still do) to get their lawyers connected with reporters and publications covering relevant stories.

For PR professionals the power of your rolodex was key. Who did you know and who trusted you among reporters? That’s still important, but not nearly as much so with bloggers.

Reporters can locate their own sources via search and by following RSS feeds and Twitter. I suspect many reporters appreciate this soft sourcing, as opposed to be pitched a source or a story.

For lawyers, we were freaked out when reporters called. Who were they? Do I trust them? Today, if you’re blogging effectively by listening to sources via RSS and Twitter, you’ll like know the reporter. Heck, you’ve likely engaged them via social media or in person.

Reporters, editors, and publishers, you need not feel compelled to blog. You already have important jobs in the journalism industry. Rely on the gift you have in law bloggers.

As Winer says in referring to bloggers as amateurs and reporters as professionals, “Reporters already have a word to describe what they do. Let us keep ours.”

Image courtesy of Flickr by NRCgov