Blogs, Moblogs, & Vlogs: Changing the Political Communication Environment
One of the biggest issues in the 2004 Presidential campaigns was the marked increase in use of the Internet among the candidates. Since the failed Dean Campaign, both Kerry and Bush adopted the use of blogs. From having been an active observer of the campaign, I noted that Kerry's site had an interactive blog, inviting and encouraging people to participate. Bush on the other hand had a non-interactive site.
It's interesting to note that had it not been for Dean and the emphasis the media put on blogs in the past several years, blogs would have otherwise potentially remained at the margin of mainstream society, only known to techies and those who worke extensively with the web, at least here in the United States.
Around the world blogs are being used as a voice for people that otherwise would have none. This is especially true in countries that are war-torn, are politically oppressive, etc. The Iraqi blogger Salam Pax gained noteriety during the U.S.'s "shock and awe" as he blogged what the war was like from an Iraqi perspective. More recently I discovered through Kaye Trammell's blog that an Iranian woman had been detained and charged with committing crimes against the Islamic state because of what she had written in her blog. The woman, undaunted told her story to the LA Times which, as discussed by Kaye shows what she will risk in order to be heard. There are many like Salam Pax and the Iranian woman who use blogs as a means to voice their opinions when all other outlets have been muzzled.
The power that blogging gives people is not unlike that which democracy is supposed to provide. Thus comes the query: is blogging creating a new avenue for democracy? This is the subject of much debate and investigation. The blog Pressthink by Jay Rosen suggests that the press stems not from the large media conglomerates and such but from the people and their ability to criticize and rationalize what they see. This is in effect what Jay Rosen sees as happening on the Internet. The media is the commercial aspect of the press, and the press he defines as:
The institution dates from the age when printing was all there was of the "mass" media. Press comprehended all of media then, but that of course was centuries ago. Today, it echoes with "freedom of the press," which is connected to free speech, which is basic to free citizens. The modern press is a carrier for public service ideals and it has an inherently political identity, even though it's always been a business too.These people who continue the tradition of the press are those that:
uphold "freedom of the media" as a great right"
It is thanks to the bloggers who've created such high quality blogs and to those that take the time to note and engage in dialogue with them, and about them, that mainstream society can enjoy both creating blogs or enjoying them, or both. It is also exciting that many of us can await eagerly as they evolve, hopefully for the betterment of society and democracy.