And at the Projo, I’m not sure the lovefest ever really got started. References to blogs are few and far between in the Projo, so imagine my surprise when I found today’s column by Froma Harrop, in which she warns Ned Lamont of the great evils that will befall him should he drink too heavily from the martini fountain of the liberal blogosphere.
Blogs are doing a great many things to affect modern communication. They offer an unprecedented diversity of voices for the avid reader. They also offer an amazing diversity of emphasis, with their writers often blending their professional and personal life into their own unique brand of citizen journalism. I would also argue that blogs are changing our language, that new words are being introduced at a faster rate, and that *punctuation in writing* is being taken in all sorts of new directions. Finally, blogs are about passion. Most of us are not doing it because it’s our job and if we don’t we won’t get paid. We’re doing it because we honest-to-beeswax care.
In politics, Blogger Cenk Uygar argues that blogs are a leading indicator of where the country is likely heading. The problem as indicators go is that blogs tend to be way ahead of the trend, so that most people think they sound kind of “out there” when they are often telling people something that they will eventually come to believe. From Cenk Uygar:
Currently, the political blogs are seen as agitators and outsiders. That’s true now. But that doesn’t mean it will stay true through all of time. In fact, not only do blogs have a bright future, but they are an indication of what the future might hold for the whole political system.
People who read blogs are among the most politically educated people in the country. They care to know what’s happening in current events and politics. So, they knew there was no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq well before the general population. Not because they were privy to some secret information, but because they cared to find out right away.
The facts always catch up to the American people. But sometimes it takes awhile. Bush didn’t earn his 30% approval rating over the last year and a half, he did that in the last five and a half years. It just took awhile for the general population to catch up to what the bloggers and blog readers already knew about.
Because blogs are relatively small and new to the scene, they are the classic Cassandras of their time — an army of independent thinkers who are often perceptive enough to portend the future, with the tragic fate of not being listened to or believed. I distinctly remember telling a friend, a school teacher, about how we were publishing an article on fuel cells in the second issue of Kmareka back in July 2002. I told her that the country would be moving toward alternative fuels. She laughed and said, “You’re kidding, right?” I wasn’t. And while fuel cells for cars are not on the market yet, look for ethanol to be coming to a gas station near you very soon.
While some of the lefty blogs have shrill, angry moments (a side effect of being a Cassandra), another significant thing that blogs do is reject the mainstream media as the best source for accurate information about politics. This means politicians of every stripe get scrutinized. Even the shrillest lefty blogs show little loyalty to the Democrats as a whole, and are often willing to criticize sleazy Dems and Dems who have abandoned positions consistent with the basic principles of the party.
So that Froma Harrop is suggesting that blogs are a dangerous medium with which to associate yourself as a political candidate is the kind of thinking that many old school consultants to Democratic party are likely telling candidates like Sheldon Whitehouse and Ned Lamont. The natural tendency of people to be wary of change corroborates their argument. But the larger story is that blogs are here and they’re here to stay. Why? Because they serve a marketable function that the mainstream corporate media does not.
Harrop’s piece suggests that bloggers have a lot of weight to throw around in the world of politics, and this may not be a good thing for Dems. John Dickerson at Slate begs to differ, suggesting that blogs should not believe the hype that the mainstream media has put them through for the past few years. From John Dickerson at Slate:
It’s not in bloggers’ short-term interest to knock down the story of their own throw-weight, but it may be to their long-term benefit. Not only do bloggers lose standing as critics if they stop being critical, but insufficient wariness will lead to an inevitable messy breakup. Media infatuations never last. When expectations get too high, the press reverses itself, because one of the laws of journalism is that the story has to change. In this case, political reporters will turn on bloggers if the promised revolution doesn’t materialize in the form of a Democratic sweep in the midterms. We are probably just under five months away from a wave of coverage positing that bloggers weren’t that powerful after all. After we build up the Markos regime, we will help to tear it down.