Canadian political blogosphere FTW!

Came across a good column by Jonathan Kay at the National Post (yes, I read the competition) about the string of victories — depending on how you define the term — involving political blogs and the current federal election campaign. As Jonathan describes, there have been half a dozen cases just in the past month or so in which bloggers have pointed to behaviour or commentary by candidates and other party staff that raised questions about their judgment: a Winnipeg blog called The Black Rod broke the news that a Liberal party candidate believed in 9/11 conspiracy theories; Big City Lib wrote about a Conservative candidate’s inflammatory comments on the Greyhound killing and gay activists; and bloggers turned up anti-Semitic comments from a Green Party candidate.

Jonathan notes that some people believe these kinds of events make the blogosphere more important than the mainstream media, but he doesn’t think that’s the case (and I agree). As he puts it:

“Some commentators have argued that bloggers have now become more important than the mainstream media (MSM)…. But the Hughes story, and others like it, in fact betray a more complicated relationship between the blogosphere and the MSM. True, the blogs put Hughes’s name on the lips of millions of Canadians.

But the bloggers weren’t in a position to turn up the heat on Dion by sticking microphones in his face, and asking him when, exactly, he was going to sack the woman. For that, you needed professional journalists with travel budgets, press passes and, well, microphones.”

I’d prefer to think of blogs and “citizen journalism” as being part of the larger continuum of journalism, in addition to the mainstream media. Jonathan’s column has some good examples of how the two can work together.

8 thoughts on “Canadian political blogosphere FTW!

  1. Matthew, who claims that bloggers are more important than MSM? I've never heard that claim before. -Greg Elmer

  2. I think that in general blogs have helped fan the flames of politics as a spectator sport, all about the cult of personality. So, yes, people are rightly “outing” politicians for their hypocrisy, but is the political system shifting in the right direction as a consequence of this? I wish it was, but it seems like politicians are more inclined than ever to make decisions based on populist nonsense rather than for the genuine good of the jurisdictions they represent.

    • That's a fair point, Daniel. I think blogs do tend to focus on personality, and could be criticized for fanning the flames a bit, or turning things into a witch hunt — but at the same time, they are a leveling force as well, and a way of routing around entrenched bias in the traditional media.

  3. Matthew, who claims that bloggers are more important than MSM? I've never heard that claim before. -Greg Elmer

  4. I think that in general blogs have helped fan the flames of politics as a spectator sport, all about the cult of personality. So, yes, people are rightly “outing” politicians for their hypocrisy, but is the political system shifting in the right direction as a consequence of this? I wish it was, but it seems like politicians are more inclined than ever to make decisions based on populist nonsense rather than for the genuine good of the jurisdictions they represent.

  5. That's a fair point, Daniel. I think blogs do tend to focus on personality, and could be criticized for fanning the flames a bit, or turning things into a witch hunt — but at the same time, they are a leveling force as well, and a way of routing around entrenched bias in the traditional media.

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