A-list Filipino Political Bloggers & Readers


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The Filipino Blogosphere: Political Expression, Communication, and Participation (A Dissemination Forum) held on 26 Feb 2011 at UP Diliman NCPAG was carried out with the aid of a SIRCA (Strengthening ICTD Research Capacity in Asia) grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada and administrative support from the Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The research project was managed under the Center for Research and Communication (CRC) in Manila.

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A-list Filipino Political Bloggers & Readers

  1. 1. A-LIST FILIPINO POLITICAL BLOGGERS AND THEIR READERS:WHO THEY ARE, WHY THEY ACCESS BLOGS,& HOW THEY PERCEIVE, & PARTICIPATE IN, POLITICS* Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos SIRCA Grantee 26 February 2011, National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
  2. 2. * This work was carried out with the aid of a SIRCA (Strengthening ICTD Research Capacity in Asia) grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada, and administrative support from the Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The project was managed under the Centre for Research and Communication in Manila, Philippines.
  3. 3. Internet, Blogging, and Politics PUBLIC SPHERE INTERNET has changed the nature of political communication and the landscape ELECTRONIC of political participation REPUBLIC User-friendly Personalized Low-cost Social BLOGS promising democratic tool for providing information,facilitating political communication, and influencing nature and level of political participation.But, only anecdotal evidence on Filipino bloggers, how they affect their readers, and how both engage in political activities.
  4. 4. Curious Connections• Blogs are founded on bloggers’ motivation and personal contexts: predisposition, resources, self- interests, and environment• Political participation – based on actor’s intention to influence distribution of social goods and social values and government action• Actors’ motivations and resources are important factors in understanding: (i) blogs as a form of political participation (ii) how blogs are used to promote participation (iii) potential of blogs in enhancing participation
  5. 5. What we wanted to find out• A-list Filipino political bloggers  Who they are  Why they write political blogs  Whether and how they participate in politics  Whether and how they encourage readers to participate, online and offline• Political blog readers  Who they are  Why they read political blogs  What their attitude is toward politics  Whether and how they participate in politics, online and offline
  6. 6. How we did it• Online Survey  30 A-list Filipino political bloggers (June to Oct 2009) (McKenna & Pole, 2004 and Ekdale et al. ,2007)  64 political blog readers (Feb to May 2009) (McKenna & Pole, 2004 and Gorospe-Jamon, 1998)• Elite interviews  Political bloggers  Academics  Journalists  Communications experts• Focus group discussions (FGDs)  Metro Manila (20 Feb 2010)  Cebu City (22 May 2010)  Davao City (29 May 2010)
  7. 7. Some notes on Sampling• No consensus on how to define a political blog  Searchability in Google and Yahoo! using key search terms: “Philippine” “political” “politics” “blog”  Extract individual blogs from blog directories, ranking sites• Selection criteria  word “politics” in blog description or tags;  author is a private individual, Filipino citizen, 18 years old or up;  blog at least 1 year, with recent posts (from March to May 2009) about politics, average of 2 posts per month  contact detail available (or active comment feature)• A-list Filipino bloggers are established and popular  Independent ranking undertaken using http://popuri.us and http://pagerankall.com
  8. 8. WHO are A-List Filipino Political Bloggers? Male, 25-34 y/o, Metro Manila-based; college- educated, employed, high-income; veteran internet users; broadband at home & workBlogging for 2-4 years, 1-2 hrs/day, 3-5 days/week;All blogs allow comments, almost all have links toother political blogs; Read 10+ other blogs Feel that blogging is “a form of political participation” that has led to “an exchange of ideas among individuals even in the real world.”
  9. 9. WHY did they START to blog? KEEP TRACK OF THOUGHTS top 2 box rating (Very much + much) INFORM PEOPLE ON 63 MOST RELEVANT INFO 53 53 INFORM PEOPLE ON 47MOST RECENT INFO 47 40 37 HELP 37 SOCIETY 27 FORMULATE 17 17 NEW IDEAS 10 10 7Keep track Inform Inform Help society Formulate Influence Let off Alternative Serve as Influence Help Critique Critique Earn moneyof thoughts people on people on new ideas public steam perspective political media org/cause political media relevant info recent info opinion watchdog opponentsBoxed scores are significantly higher at 95% CI
  10. 10. WHY do they CONTINUE to blog? KEEP TRACK OF THOUGHTS top 2 box rating FORMULATE (Very much + much) 63 NEW IDEAS 57 53 INFORM PEOPLE ON MOST47 50 RELEVANT INFO 43 43 43 40 SERVE AS POLITICAL WATCHDOG 27 27 HELP SOCIETY 17 10 3Keep track Formulate Inform Serve as Help society Alternative Influence Inform Let off Help Influence Critique Critique Earn moneyof thoughts new ideas people on political perspective public people on steam org/cause media political media relevant info watchdog opinion recent info opponentsBoxed scores are significantly higher at 95% CI
  11. 11. How blogs promote participation?Activity Frequency PercentageAnnounce an event Expressive participation 18 60%Encourage readers to contact an elected official 9 30%Other 6 20%Free advertising for a candidate 4 13%Dont know 2 7%Raise money 1 3% Political campaignPaid advertising for a candidate 0 0%Not applicable 5 17%
  12. 12. Encourage readers to participate OFF-lineActivity Frequency PercentageVote or register to vote 17 57% Conventional & legitimateAttend a peaceful demonstration 17 57%Sign a petition 14 47%Join a protest rally Unconventional but legitimate 14 47%Join a political group/movement 7 23%Campaign for a candidate 4 13%Other 3 10%  Engage in charity  Participate in elections  Be critical and analyticalPractice civil disobedience 2 7% Unconventional & illegal
  13. 13. Encourage readers to participate ON-lineActivity Frequency Percentage Visit other blogs 26 87% Visit other websites Neutral, conflict-free networking 22 73% Write/send comments to your blog 19 63% Join an online cause Political stand,15 support mobilization 50% Sign an online petition 10 33% Write/send comments to other blogs 10 33% Join a blogswarm 8 27% Other 2 7% Donate money 1 3% Dont know/ refuse 1 3% Not applicable 1 3%
  14. 14. Blogger Political Activities BEFORE and AFTER Prior to creating After creatingActivity blog blogVoted 87% 73%Attended a rally, protest or march 67% 60%Sent e-mail or letters to elected officials 43% 40%Attended a political fund raiser 20% 17%Worked on a campaign 37% 40%Attended ablogging, although respondents feel “much more” informed AFTER local community meeting 57% 47% about political issues, but only “somewhat” sure about their 13%Others 17% influence on politics or political discourse.N/A 3% 3%• No significant difference before and after blogging (at 95% CI)• Blogging did not significantly change participation in these political activities• Some activities are time-specific, such as “voting”
  15. 15. Blogger & their Readers: Similar Profile Blogger Blog Reader Answer with highestProfile (%) (%) frequency N = 30 N = 64Gender Male 80 59 Female 20 41 51% ↑Age 25 to 34 years old 53 48Location Metro Manila 40%↑ 67 48 Other Regions 23 41 44% ↑ Abroad 10 9 Refused - 2Educational attainment College 57 69Employment Currently employed 87 88Socio-economic status Upper Income (P50,001 up) 40 42Internet use (in years) 7+ years 70 66Internet use (mode) Broadband subscription at 87 84 homeMembership in a No affiliation 67 88political organisation
  16. 16. WHY Readers Visit Political BlogsReasons Frequency PercentageKeep updated; Gain awareness and moreinformation 22 34%Know/read views of others 16 25%Validate my opinion vis-à-vis others views 8 13%Gain more info and learn 4 6%Know about issues not picked up my mainstreammedia 4 6%Passive; coincidental 2 3%Politically-inclined 2 3%Educate the masses; exchange thoughts 1 2%Entertainment; opinion 1 2%Written/recommended by a friend 1 2%Weigh critical views/analyses 3 5% 64 100%
  17. 17. HOW Blogs benefit readers Benefits Frequency PercentageBe informed 18 28%Raise social/political awareness 9 14%Validate opinion vis-a-vis others views 9 14%Know other peoples views 9 14%Help shape and inform ones opinion 5 8%Broaden views/perspective 5 8%Keep updated 4 6%Know about issues not picked up by mainstreammedia 4 6%• Main reason for, and benefit of, reading political blogs are associated with INFORMATION.
  18. 18. Reader Political Activities BEFORE and AFTER Prior to accessing After accessingActivity political blogs political blogsVoted 72* 50Attended a rally, protest or march 50 38Sent e-mail or letters to elected officials 22 28Attended a political fund raiser 8 5Worked on a campaign 27 28Attended a local community meeting 33 31Others 3 16**None / NA 9Write political blogs/post of their own 5Attended President Aquinos funeral 2* Incidence significantly higher before blog reading (at 95% CI)** Incidence significantly higher after blog reading (at 95% CI)• Voting is time-specific; Majority of “Others” did not provide an answer.
  19. 19. Readers’ Political CYNICISM• Cynicism – tendency to have a negative view of, or negative feelings toward, politically significant objects, such as political institutions and processes Cynicism Percentage (N = 63)* Low 1.6% Moderate 38.1% High 60.3% Total 100%• Highest level of cynicism associated with: – “Competence of candidates winning the elections” – “Many politicians are under the control of vested interests” – “Most politicians are out to gain something for themselves”
  20. 20. Readers’ Political EFFICACY• Efficacy – feelings of competency and beliefs that ones actions are consequential, which determines a person’s incentive to participate in politics Efficacy Percentage (N = 64) Low 12.5% Moderate 48.4% High 39.1% Total 100%• Highest level of efficacy associated with: – “Having a say about what the government does” – “Ways to have a say other than voting” – “Understanding what is going on in politics, government”
  21. 21. Some Observations• Survey results were triangulated with data from elite interviews and focus group discussions  Interviews (May 2009 to April 2010)  FGDs: Manila FGD - 20 Feb 2010 Cebu FGD - 22 May 2010 Davao FGD - 29 May 2010• Some critical issues were highlighted in interviews and discussions
  22. 22. On the “Politics” of Political Blogging• Male dominance among bloggers  Aggressiveness and violence in online debates  Stressful especially for women  “Men won’t accept defeat”• Bloggers of the same opinion stick together  Polarization—blogs tend to invite, nurture a following from like-minded individuals who agree with blogger’s views• Small audience, but some more influential than others:  When blogger is already reputable, offline  When blog becomes viral  When blog gets picked up by mainstream media  When blog gets attention of influential and “gatekeepers”
  23. 23. On Political Blogs and Social Change• Blogging aids in creating public consciousness – Highest popularity in PCIJ blog: “Hello Garci” and “F4”• Convergence or complementation of different media – Necessary to effectively shape public opinion! – Complemented by face-to-face mobilization• Blogging is only one form of participation – Social change instituted outside blogosphere• Blogging on the decline – Facebook & Twitter increasingly used for political information and mobilization! – SNS increases exposure of blogs
  24. 24. On Political Blogging and Journalism
  25. 25. On Political Blogging and Journalism• Low-cost, non-hierarchical, decentralized – Blogs criticized against journalistic standards: accuracy and accountability• Traditional vs. Citizen Journalism: A Caution – In traditional journalism, stories go thru editor, publisher has legal accountability – In blogs, blogger functions as writer, editor, and publisher! – Foregone editorial filter makes blogger solely responsible for what she or he writes• Journalist Blogging (J-blogging) – Journalists as source of political information thru blogs – Blogs transforming journalism or j-blogs normalized?
  26. 26. What did we find out? (1)• A-list Filipino political bloggers & their readers are: – Majority are young males – Have the resources (money, time, literacy, broadband) – Located in country’s political capital• Filipinos start to blog to keep track of thoughts and inform others; continue to formulate new ideas – In sync w/ readers’ reasons and perceived benefits – Self-serving motivations dominate for both• Credibility is currency in the blogosphere – A-list bloggers show antagonism toward paid hacks – Readers look to credible bloggers, with established reputation offline or in mainstream media
  27. 27. What did we find out? (2)• Most engage in expressive, conventional, & legitimate forms of participation – Critical yet non-hostile actors in political blogosphere• No significant difference in participation for both bloggers and readers before and after accessing blogs – No indication that blogs encourage more participation.• Blogs are a medium for providing/acquiring information, raise awareness and enrich knowledge – increased knowledge of “real politics” may have contributed to readers’ high level of cynicism – may have downplayed value of resources, as most readers feel only moderately efficacious and uncertain of influence
  28. 28. What did we find out? (3)• Political blogs have yet to create tangible macro- impact on political participation – Most contribution limited to information-sharing, for now – No influence on political activities in “politics as usual” – More value-added during urgent political issues or “crisis” – Gain traction when it goes viral, picked up by mainstream media, and/or attract attention of gatekeepers.• Despite limited impact, blogs formulate new ideas – Could lead to more vibrant discussions, online/offline – Support democracy by allowing expression and encouraging participation despite the odds in Philippine politics.
  29. 29. Sidelined Issues• Disengagement from online political discussion – Due to bickering and personal attacks among bloggers and readers• Wrong info or smear campaigns can spread like wildfire thru blogs – Accuracy sacrificed for quick access to controversial information• Censor blogs? Bloggers’ Code of ethics? – High-profile case of bloggers sued in court by private individuals and government official
  30. 30. Future Research• Catalytic effect of SNS, like Facebook, and micro- blogging site, Twitter in mobilizing netizens• How blogs, micro-blogs, and SNS help shape and influence political attitude vs. traditional media• Content analysis of blogs and comments thread• New governance approach using new media for political communication – Pnoy replying directly to a netizen’s note on Facebook
  31. 31. Thank you. Mary Grace P. Mirandilla-Santos mg(dot)mirandilla(at)gmail(dot)com http://gracemirandilla.tumblr.com http://twitter.com/gracemirandillahttp://www.linkedin.com/in/gracemirandilla