More on the Growing Influence of Blogs in Politics

24 Jan ’06

James McCarten of the Globe has the last word on the influence that blogging had on the election and on what lies ahead. Gist:

“The Canadian political parties still view blogs as just another broadcast medium. They do not understand the power or the dynamics of blogs, and how they are changing politics,” [Mark] Federman [chief strategist at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto] wrote in a blog entry Sunday.

“It’s not a matter of the relatively small number of people who actually write and read blogs; it’s a matter of their overwhelming effects relative to that relatively small number. What this election has done is to energize the Canadian blogosphere that will be far more active during the next, and subsequent, Parliaments.”

The average Canadian still doesn’t turn to the “blogosphere” for the daily dose of election coverage, said Tamara Small, a political and Internet studies doctorate candidate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

But blogs have become so pervasive that the mainstream media ignores them at its peril, Small said.

“They got a lot more coverage, and clearly the media is taking them a lot more seriously this time around,” she said.

I found quite baffling the (pretended?) skepticism of the author of a recent letter to the Post editor who downplayed the influence of the blogosphere on the Bulte campaign finance controversy. I obviously disagreed. (Interestingly, the author did not disclose in that letter that CRIA had formerly been a client. In contrast of course, it’s the authenticity of blogging – the difficulty of hiding an agenda or bias – that is one of its most charming and powerful characteristics.) But in any event, this election does seem to have been a watershed in the role of blogging and we should expect participants and observers to be considerably more astute in its use the next time around.

Last note: for my part I’ve been very surprised to see how civil the tone of the debate is in the comment boards of the top Canadian political blogs – this is in marked contrast to their U.S counterparts (as I noted recently).

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