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Blogging And Politics

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Blogging, Is it Worth it?

It was a dark and stormy Tuesday night, but thank God my electricity was not out for if it were, I would be banned from my only happiness: the BLOG RING! I signed on to the internet with trepidation yet excitement. After going through the usual hoops to gain access to my haven and signing in passwords and usernames here and there, I finally reached the world of internet communication and sharing of ideas: free speech at its most liberal. To my horror, I came to find only one message from a fellow blogger I have never met. I decided to check out the stranger's new blogs. That was a mistake. When the screen popped up the information presented was quite disturbing. It talked about the different ways to torture people for pleasure. The conclusions seem obvious: the internet can be deceiving. With today's technology it only takes a few seconds to send an instant message from New York to Australia. Since the beginning of voice mail to the advancement of blogs and instant messenger, people use the internet as a source of income and information. So why has blogging become the new process of spreading news? Well, it all comes down to politics. Blogging has changed the internet realm by influencing the way people respond to politics.

The internet has not always been as high tech as it is now. When the internet first began it was a series of chat rooms and educational information that was easily available in one spot. From the simplistic chat rooms appeared blogs, which are web-based publications of periodic articles. They are a form of an online journal with usually many different contributors. The posts often include links to other sites, which enables critics to have the capability to observe the entire World Wide Web. According to John Nardini, a well known blogger among the internet community, blogs can function as political analysis, personal dairies, advice columns on romance, money, and computers or all of the above(1) . The numbers of blogs have grown at a sky-high rate ever since the beginning. In 1999, the total number of blogs was estimated to be around 50; five years later, the estimate ranged from 2.4 million to 4.1 million (Bayler 2). Every day, millions of online "bloggers" share their opinions with a global audience. As stated by Trevor Cook, a successful politician from New York, bloggers unite together an elaborate network with agenda-setting power on issues ranging from human rights to the opinion on the War in Iraq, just by using the capabilities of the World Wide Web. What started as a hobby is now evolving into a new standard that is changing the setting for correspondents and policymakers alike (4).

As Jeff Baylor, a vivid blogger, notes that the Perseus Development Corporation, a consulting firm that studies Internet trends, estimated that by 2005 more than ten million blogs will have been created (2). To their amazement they were right. Media institutions have adopted this form of publishing as well. Many television networks and opinion journals are now hosting blogs on their Web sites, which sometimes features transmissions from their own correspondents. Since the beginning, blogs have been influencing U.S. politics. The top five political blogs together attract over half a million visitors per day. Jimmy Orr, the White House Internet director, recently stated that the "blogosphere" "the all-encompassing term to describe the universe of weblogs as instrumental, important, and underestimated in its influence" (Bayler 3). Jeff Baylor, a vivid blogger, states that nobody understands that better than Trent Lott, who in December 2002 was forced to resign as U.S. Senate majority leader in the come around of provocative statements he made at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. To begin with, Lott's remarks received little consideration in the typical media but the accident was the focus of forceful online remarks, shoving renewed media attention that transformed Lott's mistake of judgment into a full-blown scandal (3).

Blogs are becoming more influential because they affect the content of international media coverage. Todd Gitlin, who is a professor of Journalism at The University of Michigan, notes that the media frame reality through "principles of selection, emphasis, and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters" (qtd. in Baylor 3). Brian Montopoli, a reporter for CBS News, recently stated that progressively more and more journalists and pundits take their indications about "what matters" in the world from weblogs. For significant topics in global affairs, the blogosphere functions as an unusual combination of distributed knowledge, real-time response to breaking news, and a public-opinion indicator. Also a hierarchical structure has taken shape within the primitive turmoil of cyberspace. A few elite blogs have emerged as aggregators of information and analysis, which enables the media commentators to extract meaningful analysis and rely on blogs to help them interpret and predict political developments (para 1).

A link to a website helps the popularity of that web site, and drives traffic to the web site. This is a proven fact, and it is covered in great detail on many web sites on the internet. The FEC, also known as the Federal Election Commission, sees that addition is that for a political campaign, the visitors you send to the campaign web site may turn into donors to the campaign. Mike Rogers, a major blog advocate for freedom of speech, stated that

I believe that blogging is simply the next



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