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The Rise of The Open Source Media (AKA, the Blogosphere) – Part II

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John Fund, of The Wall Street Journal and author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy wrote an insightful article today regarding the growing influence of the blogosphere and its effects on the November elections. I think it meshes nicely with my concept of the blogosphere as being a type of Open Source Media. Fund’s comments echo my own thoughts regarding the blogosphere, mainly that this new OSM can become more influential and interactive with the mainstream and new medias and can serve as a “watchdog for the watchdog:”

South Dakota Republicans decided that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which dominates the state’s media since it’s the only paper with a statewide circulation, was hopelessly biased in favor of Mr. Daschle. “The ability to use the Internet to circumvent concentrated media power became a 21st-century updating of 19th-century Dakota populism,” says John Lauck, a history professor at the University of South Dakota who was allied with Mr. Thune. Mr. Lauck and several of his friends collaborated on blogs that constantly reminded voters of contradictions between Mr. Daschle’s voting record and his statements in South Dakota, as well as the Argus Leader’s refusal to acknowledge them.

Thanks to Opinionjournal.com for publishing my response to Fund’s insightful article.

David Flanagan

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  • I am sure that political blogs have played a minor role in the elections, but I think it is overstated. I do not remember what writer said it, but he stated that only bloggers read blogs, and I am inclined to agree. The blogs that get the most traffic are just places where practically ever other like minded blogger goes for content for their own sites. Bloggers eat other bloggers. Go to any one of the thousands upon thousands of sites for right or left thinking political bloggers, and all they do is cite each other, and bash the other side. How can anyone with little to no knowledge possibly begin to decode the entire blog phenomenon? A cover of “Sleigh Ride” is more original than a political blog nowadays. Sites like Blogcritics will continue to survive because they speak to more than finding the 15,000th angle on “Rathergate” or recounting votes in Ohio. There are sadly, very few blogs that have their own voice. You pretty much set up a blog railing against the mainstream media, ask Blogs For Bush to blogroll you, and then 50 other bloggers for bush check your site out daily, and cite your posts while you cite theirs. It’s the birth of the fucking bizarro internet.

  • I think your comments imply that bloggers are not qualified to offer up commentary and opinions because they are just “ordinary people.” But the people who REALLY broke the whole Rathergate story were bloggers who also happened to be experts in their own right; lawyers, document analysts, military personnel, typewriting analysts, etc.

    And this is exactly where the strength of the blogosphere was able to become apparent. Those experts began to collaborate while other bloggers began to spread the word. Within a day, dozens of experts had published opinions based on what they saw and ten of thousands had been informed of this emerging scandal.

    The collective strength of the blogosphere in collaboration together virtually (literally) assured that the fraudulent memos would be discovered. As a matter of fact, the fraudulent nature of the documents was SO evident, that many of us marvelled that CBS was dumb enought to have been taken in.

    Say what you will Matt, the blogosphere is most certainly a new media force in the world. Perhaps you could say that, as a service, it is of the people, by the people, and for the people.



  • Ultimately, the masses did not find out about Rathergate through blogs. The blogs may have ripped the mask off of the farce that CBS created, but the issue was brought to the people by the mainstream media. I am not saying that certain blogs are not run by particularly informed and educated people. Clearly, many are. But the majority are not. Perhaps it will happen in the future, but blogs currently have made barely a ripple with anyone except bloggers.

  • David—for clarification, in my first comment, I stated that “How can anyone with little to no knowledge possibly begin to decode the entire blog phenomenon?” I was referring to people who are not bloggers i.e. possible readers. I was not implying that blogegrs do not have the requisite knowledge to speak their mind.

  • …the issue was brought to the people by the mainstream media

    But the MSM aired it under pressure, not by choice. First the blogs broke the story, then the new/alternate media picked up the story and began to air it, then some of the more conservative elements of the traditional media and then, as it became a no-brainer that this was indeed a scandal, the rest of the media.

    The point being that the blogosphere broke this story and the rest of the media world followed. As for the non-blogger’s ability to understand the blogging phenomenon, this is not a necessary requisite. All that needs to happen is for the blogosphere to air facts and issues in such a way that it helps put pressure on ALL other media to be more honest in their reporting.