Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blogs, Politics and Media

Blogging has become one of the most important political and media developments of the 21st century. It is beginning to have a profound importance on American politics (although not in Canada as yet in my view). An acknowledgement of this latter fact can be found in the article in the May 28 New York Times Magazine by Matt Bai about Yearly Kos, a convention of the liberal blogosphere sponsored by the blog Daily Kos, about which the Bai article notes:

Barely four years after Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, a former American soldier who grew up in El Salvador and Chicago, started Daily Kos from his home in Berkeley, Calif., the site is now less a blog than a civic phenomenon. With some 600,000 visitors a day, Daily Kos reaches more Americans — albeit like-minded Americans — than all but a handful of the largest daily newspapers.

Bai goes on in the article to be airily dismissive of its importance, but as a journalist in the traditional world of the mainstream media he misses the obvious point about the internet: it reduces the costs of information (networking, organizing, staying in touch, communicating laterally) to almost zero. And that has profound implications. The Howard Dean campaign demonstrated its fund raising potential but blogs are also a important political and media phenomenon, influencing opinion and delivering new forms of accountability.

I think Bai is also threatened by the democratization of media that blogging represents. There is an excellent discussion of blogging and media here in the blog of the American Prospect, which argues the following:

It’s often observed that the blogosphere constitutes a threat to big news orgs. But it’s not a threat only for the usual reasons mentioned -- competition for traffic, the speeding up of the news cycle, etc. Bloggers are also a threat because they're in the process of making the opinion-generating profession a purely meritocratic one.

Blogging is in its infancy. Daily Kos started up only in 2002. Despite the impacts of the past few years, it is likely that blogging's greatest impact has yet to be seen.

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