This page looks at political blogging - blogs by candidates,
elected representatives and advocacy organisations.
It covers -
Given the rhetoric about community
noted earlier in this profile and almost millennarian
expectations about 'new media' as something that is necessarily
liberating and democratic it is unsurprising that enthusiasts
and the media have argued that blogging will be a significant
feature of politics in advanced economies.
Such arguments typically centre on claims that blogs will
elected representatives or potential representatives
to bypass mass media, particularly media that are hostile
to a particular view or that present an individual within
a particular 'box' that misrepresents that person and
politicians with a personal voice
"genuine engagement" between representatives
and those they represent, in particular through feedback
that is "authentic" and appears on the reprentative's
advocacy groups to disseminate their views to members,
potential supporters and opponents
'citizen journalists' to ask "hard questions"
that would be asked by a supine, biased or merely lazy
online poll and 'get out the vote' campaigns by groups
such as MoveOn and GetUp
("A political motivated movement attempting to
enlist like-minded people who want
to bring participation back into democracy").
are thus currently emulating peers in the US, Canada and
UK who have started blogging as a replacement for or supplement
to traditional sites and newsletters.
UK critic Martyn Perks commented
is nothing new about MPs having websites - but weblogs
are websites with a difference. A typical MP's website
contain speeches, articles and information about issues
they think are important. The new clique of MPs dabbling
with weblogs is a different breed; they realise the
potential in blogging, and how it makes publishing and
soliciting feedback relatively simple, without needing
technical knowledge of web publishing. In reality, however,
politics-by-blogging often means selling ideas to us
that are uninformed, parochial and unmediated.
... by evoking a sense of participation, asking voters
for ideas becomes an excuse for not thinking big and
forging forward with political direction. Instead, policy
is formed on the hoof and based on a knee-jerk response
to the world around us.
Crabtree had earlier argued
Are Like Your Front Door
Your front door works best for welcoming those you already
know. Of course, you front door can introduce you to
new people. But people who turn up who you don’t
know at all – double glazing salesmen, or jehova’s
witnesses for instance - are less welcome. Blogs are
a bit like this too. They work best for communicating
with people who already know you, and who are already
interested in what you do. Blogs are a very handy way
of keeping those who already know you, and have an interest
in what you do, informed, updated, and plugged in. They
can also work to introduce you to those who do not know,
but because they are designed around those who are engaged
they can be more off-putting than a standard web-site.
For politicians this means understanding that if a constituent
comes to your blog, what is up there may be confusing.
Although day-to-day scribblings will be useful for those
they know, they are often the most accessible introduction
to an MP. So blogs are not to be seen as a replacement
for web-sites, and must come with other means of communicating
with people who might not understand a blog at first.
the UK the Political Blogs - Craze or Convention
from the Hansard Society lamented that MP blogs may be
an unsuccessful byproduct of "evangelical attempts
to patch up relations between representatives and constituents
in the face of flagging election turnouts".
Sandy Starr asked
this intimate, personal form of expression suitable
for politicians? These are our formal representatives,
and are generally also representatives of political
parties. Because they bear such responsibility, we might
expect them to comport themselves differently in public
to the way they might in the pub. Rather than reading
their offhand musings, wouldn't it be better to hold
them to account more formally in the forum of public
candidate and campaign blogs
The problematical nature of 'online community' has not
deterred pundits from proclaiming that weblogs will drive
political activism, generally
construed in terms of left-of-centre young caucasians
with a beef about globalisation. Neo-nazis and religious
fanatics apparently won't blog for power.
In Australia few political candidates have blogged, in
contrast to the US and UK where blogging now seems de
rigeur as a way of demonstrating that the candidate is
hip, tech-savvy and atuned to a youth demographic. The
credibility of blogs from high profile contenders such
as Howard Dean
has been undermined by suggestions that the 'blogger'
behind some blogs is in fact the candidate's staff.
William Grosso, asking "What's the point of a weblog
and what does it accomplish?" in 2002, commented
Winer (and others, like Eric Albert) are gradually wandering
into politics (they're at the toe-dipping stage, but
the big splash seems inevitable). What they're doing
is interesting: they're attempting to jumpstart the
tech community to defend technology.
the profile on internet myths
suggests, we are unconvinced that "technology"
needs to be defended,
that the "internet is under siege"
(the EFF, like the Festival of Light, is always issuing
jeremiads at 5 minutes to 12) or that the "tech community"
(the people tartly characterised by Borsook as the cyberselfish)
is altogether altruistic.
In 2003 the US Democratic National Committee launched
Ass blog with the promise that
are popping up all over politics. Most of the Democratic
candidates for president have added them to their websites.
Why? What's so different about blogs that so many people
have turned to them as a source of news and community?
Is this just another Internet fad (remember push media?)
that will be nothing but a fond memory in a few years?
We don't think so. One of the most common complaints
about politicians and political parties is that there's
no real communication between those of us in Washington
and the rest of America.
We put out press releases, email newsletters, fundraising
appeals, form letters, and advertisements. You write
letters, volunteer, and donate.
But where's the frank, one-on-one communication? Blogs
make that possible. On Kicking Ass, you're going to
meet real people at the DNC and hear our real thoughts.
And we're going to listen to you.
are old and jaundiced, but they would say that, wouldn't
virtual fireside chats and fibs
As yet, most candidates have confined their blogging to
text, albeit often decorated with a picture of the loving
spouse, designer children and authentically scruffy dog.
We can presumably expect greater use of podcasting,
as people offer audio or even video for particular audiences.
Podcasting by politicos so far has tended to recycle radio
or television advertisements - explored in Edwin Diamond's
classic The Spot: The Rise Of Political Advertising
on Television (Cambridge: MIT Press 1992) - and canned
speeches, rather than a performance specific to the net.
A carefully honed and engaging folksy fireside chat might
offset voter scepticism about the authenticity of much
politician blogging, which like speeches is often ghostwritten.
Outsourcing expression and ideas is probably inevitable
but can damage the supposed author's credibility if not
properly managed. New York candidate Fernando Ferrer for
example was caught in an apparent fib on his campaign
blog. Aides dealt with the problem by maintaining that
Ferrer did not write the blog entry attributed to him.
An item submitted by Freddy Ferrer was inaccurately
edited regarding Freddy's education. We apologize for
the mistake and have corrected the entry.
explanation was followed by a statement that the candidate
did not submit a written item but rather "passed
on some ideas" to an aide, who then wrote three paragraphs
and posted them in his name.
This happens in political campaigns all the time,"
she said. "In this case he called in some ideas,
and someone got a little loose with the editing.
Do political blogs preach to - and energise - more than
the converted? The answer to that question is contested.
In 2008 US pollster Harris claimed that most people in
the US do not read political blogs. Only 22% of respondents
to Harris' poll indicated that they read blogs regularly
(ie several times per month). 56% indicated that they
never read blogs concerned with politics. 23% read them
"several times a year". Only 19% of people in
the 18 to 31 age cohort and 17% of those in the 32 to
43 cohort regularly read a political blog, with Harris
claiming that the generation "most likely" to
read such blogs was that comprising people aged 63 or
older (26% of whom supposedly read polblogs).
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