One of the few aspects of this godforsaken new media era that’s warmed my heart has been watching Firedoglake, which began as as an outlet for a Hollywood producer and a West Virginia attorney to obsess over the Valerie Plame/Lewis Libby story, emerge as a venue for up-to-the-minute liveblogging (“reporting,” I think is what some people call it) on big-time D.C. trials. Bloggers get a lot of heat for not doing real journalism stuff like going to places and asking questions and writing down things, as if a new, independent medium could develop overnight. If independent blogs emerge as a comprehensive media force, Firedoglake will play an important role in that process.

And Firedoglake’s latest catch is a real, honest-to-God journalist, Lewis Koch, whom Rick Perlstein calls an “old fashioned ass-kicking Chicago investigative reporter.” Koch’s resumé alone is richer and more interesting than anything I’ve ever written — he was mentored by Saul Alinsky, founded the Chicago Journalism Review, shot documentaries of the 1968 convention, broke the story of the Fred Hampton murder, directed the Urban Journalism Fellowship Program at the University of Chicago, served as a contributing editor at Chicago magazine, taught everywhere from Columbia College to Columbia University, and all the while stayed abreast of technology. As recently as 1999, he was asked to address NASA on the psychology of hackers, and has written on all sorts of technology-related legal issues. So it’s encouraging to see him staying on the front lines.

Koch will be covering the Jose Padilla case, which Perlstein describes as if “George Orwell and Franz Kafka had a love child.” Give him a warm welcome to the blogosphere, and look for his posts at Firedoglake starting soon.

(h/t Liz)