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Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
Blogs as a challenge to traditional media
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Blogs as a challenge to traditional media

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Paper presented at the International Political Science- Political Communication Conference. Loughborough, UK. November 1020. …

Paper presented at the International Political Science- Political Communication Conference. Loughborough, UK. November 1020.

Examines the idea that blogs have an impact upon politics and offer an alternate to mainstream media.

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  • 1. Blogs and the Power to Change: the case considered<br />Dr. Marcus Leaning<br />University of Winchester<br />Paper presented at International Political Science Association - Research Committee 22 Conference. University of Loughborough, UK 4-5thNovember 2010.<br />
  • 2. Blogs widely understood as a media form that will change / transform the existing media / journalistic ecosystem.<br />Of course not the first media form to do so – a ‘rite of passage’ for media to be considered dangerous. <br />Paper will be a summary of the arguments for and against to contextualise the debate rather than solve it.<br />The intent here is to step back from debate, examine how we think about new technology and how we use existing categories to do so.<br />Introduction<br />
  • 3. <ul><li>Blog history:
  • 4. Had ‘ancestors’ in old new media (pre-www internet).
  • 5. Mod.ber first news group to have a list of interesting links to other posts and news, 1983.
  • 6. Mid 1990s diary websites, first was Claudio Pinhanez's "Open Diary“ @ MIT from 94-96.
  • 7. 1998-1999 blogger software makes blogging easy.
  • 8. Blogs don’t really do anything that could not be done on the net before, but they did let everybody do it.
  • 9. More of a educational, literary or social innovation than a technical one – we started to think about writing and communicating in a new way – a new literary form – than a dramatic technological change.</li></ul>Boring background bit<br />
  • 10. <ul><li>Etymology of weblog and blog.
  • 11. Most sources cite Jorn Barger and Robot Wisdom as first use of the word weblog in 1997.
  • 12. This was later abbreviated to ‘we-blog’ by Peter Merholz.</li></ul>The word…<br />
  • 13. <ul><li>However, he was not the first!
  • 14. In August 1995 G. Raikundalia and M. Rees presented a conference paper titled:</li></ul> ‘WebLog: exploiting the Web use interface for document management in electronic meetings’<br /> At Queensland Computer - Human Interaction Symposium, Bond University.<br /><ul><li>This is the first use of the word referring to what we would today call a blog.</li></ul>Controversy!<br />
  • 15. In a similar way to how newsgroups and other preceding forms of computer mediated communication were understood, blogs are credited with an enormous transformational potential. <br />‘Blogophiles’ – an optimistic reading of blogs.<br />Central to such claims are three key arguments: <br />The power of blogs…<br />
  • 16. Blogs are thought to encourage civic participation and involvement and will assist in the rejuvenation of the Habermassian public sphere <br />Through their use people can be re-empowered and civic culture revitalised (Blood, 2002; Colvile, 2008).<br />Blogs have inherent qualities that bring about or encourage a greater sense of civic involvement.<br />They foster engagement with the political process.<br />1. Civic participation and involvement<br />
  • 17. Blogs are thought to extend and rejuvenate the ‘watchdog’ aspect of the media. <br />The surveillance and monitoring of politicians and the reporting of their activities and comments through blogs is broadly understood to bring a new level of accountability to politics. <br />Politicians good at media management, blogs offer a new way to scratch the surface.<br />2. Accountability for politicians<br />
  • 18. <ul><li>Blogs allow for innumerable ‘voices from below’ means that existing power structures and forms of communication are damaged.
  • 19. Blogs constitute a challenge to traditional systems of expert knowledge including journalism.
  • 20. Mainstream media challenged as individuals are able to engage in journalisitic activities external to the large media industry ‘gate keepers’.
  • 21. These‘citizen journalists’ undermine and highlight the problems selectivity, partisanship, bias and prejudice in mainstream journalism.</li></ul>3. Erode the influence and power of formal groups and existing media power structures<br />
  • 22. However there is severe criticism of this interpretation of blogs.<br />Blogs do not operate quite as the <br />blogophiles would have it…<br />Problems with blogs…<br />
  • 23. Barlow (2007) argues that blogs do not present a new form of journalism but represent (and restore) a theme of citizen journalism in American political life, they are part of the ‘ideological mainstream’ (Kenix, 2009).<br />Blogging is a very American style of political engagement, the small ‘man’ fighting bad corporate forces.<br />Fits in well with US media ecology and mythic understanding of the role of the media.<br />Also the highly individualised, biographic nature of blogs.<br />Does it work as well else where, is it distorting and transforming media systems to a US model?<br />1. It’s a very American media… <br />
  • 24. Commercial interests are becoming increasingly prevalent – what Dean (2010) calls ‘communicative capitalism’<br />Popular blogs attract advertising like other forms of media.<br />Blogs not oppositional to mainstream but draw from them (Haas, 2005) .<br />Also blogs area PR dream in some ways - paid for blog posts a strong feature in ‘below the line’ advertising campaigns.<br />2. Commercial interests…<br />
  • 25. Same problems that beset original public sphere.<br />An imbalance in who can write with the same demographic issues as other forms of internet activity:<br />Predominantly educated, affluent, white bloggers.<br />(some movement on proportion of women when compared to other internet activity).<br />Issues of information literacy.<br />3. Not an equal playing field.<br />
  • 26. Biggest problem is fragmentation. <br />Internet ‘audiences’ are notoriously partisan.<br />Participants in online deliberative environments tend to stick within their community of interest (Hill and Hughes, 1998; Wilhelm, 1999), ‘pockets of interest’ (Selnow, 1998), ‘deliberative enclaves’ (Sunstein, 2001) or an ‘online echo chamber’ (Singer, 2005). <br />Bloggers do the same, we read blogs that reinforce not challenge views.<br />Mutually supporting belief groups may seem to exacerbate differences and lead to extremism (Tateo, , a far cry from the development of citizenship and of rational discourse that Habermas identified as the goal of deliberative action.<br />4. Fragmentation<br />
  • 27. Probably do facilitate change but may be better to think of them as exacerbating existing phenomena rather than bring about truly new social action.<br />Best to understand them not as a technology but a social practice.<br />Their use is mediated by social conventions, political locality and history, is also contingent upon certain conditions.<br />Conclusion – how to ‘read’ blogs<br />
  • 28. Barlow, A. (2007) The Rise of the Blogosphere, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.<br />Blood, R. (2002) We've Got Blog : How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture, New York: Perseus Books.<br />Colvile, R. (2008) Politics, Policy and the Internet, London: Centre for Policy Studies. <br />Dean, J. (2010) Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive, Cambridge: Polity Press.<br />Haas, T. (2005) ‘From “Public Journalism” to the “Public's Journalism”? Rhetoric and reality in the discourse on weblogs’, Journalism Studies, 6(3), 387-396.<br />Hill, K.A. & Hughes, J.E. (1998) Cyberpolitics: Citizen Activism in the Age of the Internet, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.<br />Kenix, L. (2009) ‘Blogs as Alternative’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14, 790–822.<br />Raikundalia, G. & Rees, M. (1995) ‘WebLog: exploiting the Web use interface for document management in electronic meetings’, paper presented at Queensland Computer Human Interaction Symposium, Bond University. <br />Singer, J. (2005) ‘The Political J-Blogger’, Journalism, 6(2), pp. 173-198.<br />Sunstein, C. (2001) Republic.com. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.<br />Tateo, L. (2005) ‘The Italian extreme right on-line network: An exploratory study using an integrated social network analysis and content analysis approach’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(2), [Online] Available at: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue2/tateo.html<br />Wilhelm, A.G. (1999) ‘Virtual Sounding Boards: How Deliberative is Online Political Discussion?’, in by B.N. Hague and B.D. Loader eds. Digital Democracy: Discourse and Decision Making in the Information Age, ed., London: Routledge.<br />References<br />

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