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.