Conservatives can get their message across through dedicated channels, but it’s always going to be the “alternative” viewpoint. About 50% of Memeorandum is mainstream “news.” About 30% is partisan — split pretty evenly between left and right. The rest is the long tail. Holding our own in that 30% doesn’t matter much if the other 50% leans left and dominates the narrative.

Iraq is illustrative of this emergency. The fact that we have to scrounge for change between the pillows to send guys like Jeff Emanuel to do real reporting in Iraq is a disgrace. There should be a standing $10 million annual investment to fund 50 embeds in Iraq at a time, who can not only churn out readable 900-word pieces but can also do video from the front, including when the guns go off. All this original reporting should be aggregated on a dedicated channel like Politico, ThinkProgress, or OfftheBus. There should be a partnership with Fox News to provide video in places mainstream reporters won’t go.

The lack of such an infrastructure is not for lack of interest. Lots of bloggers have been over to Iraq, a commitment which makes the professional activists in the leftosphere look like dilettantes. Guys like Jeff, Bill Roggio, and Michael Yon have been the advance guard for this stuff. But nothing little has been done to institutionalize their work, to create counter-memes by controlling the upstream information flow through a system for nurturing these upstart war reporters. The failure to develop an effective counter-narrative out of Iraq is reflective of the “conservative message machine” and its reluctance to think outside the box.

Every movement or media phenomenon starts with amateurs improvising. But at some point it has to be professionalized if it’s going to be sustained and grow. The new progressive movement started with guys like Atrios, who then got picked up by Media Matters. Dozens of lefty bloggers are employed by the new lefty infrastructure. . . . If someone has $2 million to throw around on Rush Limbaugh’s letter, then someone has a few million to spend on a blogger-journalists to investigate Democratic corruption or on a sustained project to get out different storylines about Iraq or to set up an open-source research operation to more closely bracket the coverage. And it doesn’t have to be done through any existing institution, with all its offline encumbrances. The Politico, already at #4 on Memeorandum, shows the power of doing it as a startup.

Yes, the folks in the GOP apparat have been complacent, while the Democrats have been hungry. We know how that particular story usually ends . . . .