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A rifle in one hand, a laptop in the other. Behind the scene with pro-gun bloggers

"Cowboy Blob" and other online commentators fill the press box at the National Rifle Association convention.

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Sen. John McCain speaks during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Phoenix on Friday.

Matt York/AP

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While many old-school beat reporters stayed in New York or Washington this weekend to write about conventional political and social events, the pseudonymous “Sebastian” live-blogged GOP head Michael Steele’s fiery speech from the press box at the National Rifle Association convention in Phoenix.

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With some 55,000 readers a month, Sebastian, an “IT guy” from Pennsylvania who writes the snowflakesinhell.com blog, is part of a contrarian gang of gun bloggers attending the 2nd Annual Second Amendment Blog Bash here.

But here's the real news: In the press box, bloggers outnumbered national reporters by a good margin. And officially, nearly 50 bloggers -- compared to 100 mainstream print journalists -- were accredited by the NRA press office to attend the 138th annual convention.

Experts say that ratio at a major national news event featuring a panoply of GOP stars -- including John McCain and Mitt Romney -- presents a stunning affirmation of the rise of a mix of both partisan and fiercely independent and sometimes downright cranky “New Media,” marking its growing power to not only cover breaking news, but set the tone for political policy -- and, in the case of Second Amendment rights, even the direction of the NRA itself.

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