Thursday, January 26, 2006

The media and blogs

Darcy of Dust my Broom points to a column in Winnipeg Free Press which, like so many others before it, dismisses political bloggers (conservative bloggers in particular) as the stereotypical 'guy in his pyjamas, typing away in the basement of his mother's home'.

Earlier this week in the National Post there was a piece about blogging. It suggested, as does the piece in the Free Press, that bloggers over-estimate their sway and are largely irrelevant in Canada. The two pieces begin with the premise that bloggers hope to influence events. I believe their theory is inherently wrong.

Some blogs are very good at disseminating information, breaking stories or pointing out the absurdities of government, others take aim at the news that's already out there and give a perspective typically unavailable in the mainstream media. Some blogs reflect on the current realities of the world, while others are simply a place for their authors to vent.

Most bloggers seem pleased to know their efforts are read, but don't succumb to the illusion that they are changing anyone's opinion. We know we are mostly preaching to the converted and though we enjoy visits from commenters from the other end of the political spectrum, their challenges aren't about to change our minds any more than our posts and comments are going to change theirs.

I think the media has missed the real power of the average political blog.

For me, blogging has been a remarkable discovery of like-minded people in a country that I believed had very few conservative thinkers (especially east of Manitoba or Saskatchewan).

Through blogging, I have 'virtually' met people from all across Canada and parts of the
US. We've exchanged ideas, learned about each other and sometimes surprised ourselves at how much we have in common despite diverse backgrounds, geography and life experience. We've discovered how much our neighbours to the south know about us, and care about our politics. We've agreed or disagreed as the issues demanded, and we've shared concerns and frustrations, as we laughed at the lunacy of politics, politicians and pundits.

Far from being irrelevant, blogging has connected people who would likely never have met and allowed us to voice our shared worries, hopes, goals and vision. If nothing else, it has been a uniting tool, helping Canadian conservatives to see that they aren't alone and giving us a place and a public forum at a time when we've felt silenced and marginalised.

Bloggers might not change the world or influence the way the public thinks, but it's been heartening to find that there are other people out there whose view of the world isn't skewed left. When assessing the value of any medium, understanding the intentions of its users should be the first step. Professional journalists who discount the importance of political blogs, have approached this from the wrong angle.



Mark said...

Agreed, CA. Blogging has demonstrated to me that there is a strong conservative voice across this nation, and more, that even though we may not agree 100% on all issues there is enough common ground to be found to move forward.

It has been invigorating to know I am not alone.

Sara said...

Yup I agree, but I don't wear PJ's.... I shouldn't tell you what I do wear that wouldn't be very conservative now would it?

Chuckercanuck said...

To prove your point:

I was thinking of blogging about this very topic and make the very points you made. Its been mulling in my head.

Now, I don't have to!

Brian said...

First off, I claim to have changed the election:

It makes as much sense as any other theory I've read :-)

I have two other thoughts for you. We Conservative bloggers may not be changing any body's mind, but I think we are keeping the regular media more honest. When they start skewing the message, they get called on it. That's new and I think, significant.

Also, blogging and other bloggers have helped me frame my ideas better, concentrate my arguments. You can't get away with being careless with the facts in this medium, and it's made a lot of Conservative thinkers better thinkers, and better debaters. That will have an affect down the road.

My 2 cents. Great post by the way.

INP said...

I'm a "like-minded" person and I'm glad to have discovered you.

I'm not really sure if bloggers sway public opinion when it comes to their political leanings. However, I do know that the MSM is paying attention and sometimes take their lead from what they read in the blogosphere. This is a big start. And it will grow. It is inevitable. We have just scratched the surface. Someday the MSM may be publicly subordinate to certain bloggers. It is what they fear and what I welcome. Imagine independant bloggers being more influential than corporate media servants. I am literally creaming my jeans at the thought. The day is coming and it is just around the corner.

valiantmauz said...

Well, visitng the blogs on both the left and right, has convinced me that sane people exist on both ends of the continuum (sic?).

You and Candace, Andrew at BBG, Andrew Coyne and such ... suffice to say none of you can be dismissed as wingnuts *smile*.

It has been a real learning experience, and often a pleasure. So much so that I actually feel somewhat optimistic about our new government - case in point, Mr. Harper's stance on Arctic sovereignty pleases me greatly.

Tim said...

It's cathartic.

TrustOnlyMulder said...

I know I believe every "Blogging Tory" and every Tory blogger alike did a great service. The list of things the whole beehive collective did was amazing.

Each blogger has his non blogger readers. Local friends, family etc. When we all dig a bit in our backyard, and then utilize a tool like a blogroll or a webring to read each other and spread information, it spans the country in minutes. It has a "real human" perspective and interest.

That "magic" if you want to call it that, is what is missing from the MSM. They do break a lot of great stories. But people of like mind read a lot of each others work and too many surfers prefer the realism of chat in the comments as opposed to reading the paper and moving on.

The production time alone for a segment on the news is big. Video, credits, the script, waiting for the next news flash, etc. A blogger can take a local story, flash it out there, and poof, it's everywhere.

It also helps to type 60+ wpm but is not a prerequisite. :-)

bob said...

The one thing I've found is that there is a "spirit of conservatism" that is far wider than the MSM understands.
I'll do a quick-hit post on this shortly.
Thanks, C.
And Sara, I don't care that you don't wear PJs. That's none of my business, anyway.

arctic_front said...

I have been reading this and other blogs all through the election campaign.

I think the MSM is showing their arrogance if they brush you off out of hand. the news and insight I've read on the Blogging Tories and 'the other guys' pages, shows not only the depth and passion of what is writen here, but the determination and zeal to get to the truth.

I will forever be a reader of bloggs after what I've read and enjoyed. Kudos to all bloggers.

PelaLusa said...

Earlier today I discussed the election with a relatively new friend of mine. She is intelligent, hard working, and successful. Yet she started espousing all of the Liberal fear mongering talking points, almost word-for-word from the last few weeks of ads.

I politely told her that she had been drinking too much Liberal Kool-Aid and that, I believe, Harper is much too intelligent to dwell on extreme social conservative issues such as taking away her ability to have an abortion.

I then went on to make a prediction: Starting the day after the election the Liberals and their media "partners" have already started planning the downfall of Harper et co.

There are strong echoes of my view shown here: (Especially "Hold the Champagne")

The only thing I can hope is that those of us blogging on the right side of the spectrum will keep doing so, albeit in an intelligent, balanced manner. Hopefully this WILL change the tide in our country and my prediction will be wrong! But never discount the ignorance of the 'sheep' aka the bulk of our fellow Canadians! :-)

Sara said...

I have to keep blogging, my cause isn't finished yet. Don't get me wrong I fully support the Conservatives. I just feel they need to push a bit harder to make equality with daycare and parenting.
Stay at home parents are still considered non-working dependents.
Dictionary online says childcare is when someone takes care of someone else's child or children...

I love blogging, I don't blog fake news or anything and I try not to be mean (on a personal level).
What I do is use it as a diary, if people would just notice that stay at home mom or dad then someday the government might as well.
Next time you see one make sure you thank them because they are also in major depression financially. I know, I fiddle with my bills monthly but my kids are worth more than a few annoying phone calls saying "when are you gonna pay".

Bob, thanks for being a gentlemen. I just believe people need to laugh once in a while. Jacksnewswatch taught me that.
Canadianna, I love your site!

Debris Trail said...

Bloggers should do themselves a favor and read the book, "South Park Conservatives". Don't be put off by the title, as the book has very little to say about South Park. Instead, it's a brief and easy read that summarizes the effect of the New Media on Political thought and trends. Bloggers, from large to small, figure very big, with talk radio, news aggregates, and cable tv; and in the USA (books).

The main effect of bloggers is their ability to scoop the MSM; and bloggers have the MSM looking over its shoulders. Our election was typical of this.

Peter C. Newman has recognized this by saying that blogs represent competition and watch-dog status for the MSM. Leaks and breaking news often go to bloggers now, instead of the MSM. Who else to better reveal scandal too, than a major blog. And, bloggers are increasingly doing serious investigation work that trumps the MSM.

If you thought, as I did, that the MSM liberal bias we are used to hardly made a showing in election 2006, you are right. The MSM was checking it's rearview mirror.

TimR said...

Those that think blogs don't have any real influence should read the interesting case of Liberal Sam Bulte who lost her seat in the election because blogs drove the story of her being beholden to corporate copyright interests.

Before blogs, MSM probably would have ignored this story and voters would have been in the dark.

DirtCrashr said...

Pelalusa said, Starting the day after the election the Liberals and their media "partners" have already started planning the downfall of Harper et co. - Hey, you figure they waited until the day-after?? :-)
Debris Trail mentioned, The main effect of bloggers is their ability to scoop the MSM; and bloggers have the MSM looking over its shoulders. I'd suggest that not only that, the MSM is so greedy for scooping they overreact and make bad mistakes, like the case of the W. Virginia Mine-tragedy, they rushed to scoop on the live miners - Oooh-Oops! They dead!!
The hurried circle of finger pointing that followed even pointed to Bush! Everywhere and everyone but their own culpability was questioned.

Kim McKenzie said...

Great post yet again. I completely agree :)

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Raging Ranter said...

The media might pretend they don't take blogs seriously, but they do. I read many breaking stories that first broke on blogs, spread like wildfire on the Net, then the MSM was forced to pick them up. And other stories which the MSM never did pick up, but I felt were important, were also reported on blogs.

Like you, my main reason for blogging is to connect with like-minded individuals. 10 years ago, who would have thought we'd be able to interact with each other so easily. And the barriers between media figures and "little people" have also disintegrated. Journalists now routinely interact with everyday folks through their blogs. The Shotgun, Andrew Coyne, and Comment Please are perhaps the best examples of this, and there are others.

Jim said...

The Press in south of the border is equally dismissive of conservative bloggers, epecially since the mainstream media's liberal slant has been uncovered(to everyone but themselves, of course.)
On a separate note, I've recently been trying to decipher to Clarity Act of 2000 and I still don't understand if Quebec is covered under the constitution the same as the rest of Canada or not and do they or do they not have the right to secession from the dominion.

Gordon Pasha said...

The Liberals wanted to believe that we loved Paul Martin. The Canaidan MSM wants to believe they are immune from blogging. I guess we all want to believe something, if it makes us feel more secure. When I talk to mid to high level public servants, they dismiss blogs because, to paraphrase, Canadians are not that sophisticated. They say that with the look of deer in the headlights. The main thing is that information and ideas are flowing quickly and freely. It scares the hell out of some folks.

Justthinkin said...

Kieth hit it on the head. The MSM is scared to death they may lose some of their "privilege" And like the privileged, they are horrified at the thought of being made accountable. So demonize that which threatens you. Tis the leftie way.
Great post Canadianna.

49erDweet said...

Well said, m'lady! Excellent post. Good comments, so far, too.

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Canadian Sentinel said...

I wholeheartedly concur with Canadianna's findings and musings in this post.

I, too, found that I wasn't alone and wasn't some kind of nut with a wild imagination. I realized beginning last spring that many others out there in the blogosphere indeed have made the same findings and come to the same analyses and conclusions as I.

Further, blogs provide competition to the MSM for one reason: money.

To explain: before blogging, only those with plenty of cash to start up newspapers, radio stations, tv news programs and networks, etc. have been able to promulgate "news" and views. No longer is this the case. The so-called "professionals" in the MSM have been proven to be little more than glorified regular citizens who're lucky enough to have been hired as "reporters" or "pundits". Their elite social positions had long ago gone to their heads, making them arrogant and narcissistic, even, sometimes, which are traits they shared with those in government, leading to too much closeness between what's reported and what the government's (Liberal ones, actually) agenda and aims were. Hence the MSM's Liberal-leaning biases in its reporting and editorializing.

Now we the people, who have relatively little cash to put into information dissemination, have access to the internet, sometimes on our own PCs and internet connections at home and sometimes at public access locations like internet cafes and the like. Recently, blogging software became available for free or for small charges, enabling us all to get into the whole "medium" biz.

Still in its infancy but growing in quantity and quality and becoming more defined (different sorts of blogs, etc.), the blogosphere is indeed making a difference and at an accelerating rate. It provides a new medium for citizens for their news and to learn how others see the news and the world at the moment.

This is important for the reason that the MSM has long enjoyed a monopoly on news reporting and view expression. They decided who would get published in the "Letters" pages and whose views would be broadcast on tv and radio, effectively making them censors of public thinking. They were literally telling people what to think and believe, and many have fallen into the trap of believing that if they say something on the news or if it's in the paper, it must be true.

We bloggers are among those who resisted the propaganda we've been force-fed on a daily basis. We know, for example, that the Liberal gov't was lying to us all these years and the MSM was letting them get away with it. I noticed this past election that the MSM had changed significantly in how it covered the campaign. It was more fair to the parties and wasn't afraid to tell the truth about what Liberals did wrong, perhaps because if they carried on like before, the blogosphere would've demonstrated that it, not the MSM, is to be relied upon. Think about it that way. I really believe the MSM saw the writing on the PC screen via the blogosphere.

Rise, fellow bloggers! We're here, we're there and we're here to stay!

Linda said...

Exactly, C. At the last CPC rally in Charlottetown, toward the end of the campaign, I think someone told me that Stephen Harper had 35 members of the press travelling with him. I was there, snapping pics, soaking up the scene, and wearing my homemade "I Blog!/Blogging Tories" button. As the event wound down, one of those journalists noticed the button, approached me and we struck up a conversation about blogs, the Blogging Tories in particular, and their influence in this election campaign. He was of the opinion that blogs did indeed have a huge impact on the campaign, and that the media landscape had, as a result, changed irrevocably. (And yes, I do know this reporter's name etc., but I've chosen to keep it 'off the record'- grin!)

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