Some of the best coverage of the blogosphere in the mainstream press is coming from Chris Seper of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A blogger himself, Chris brings a sophistication and depth to his blog coverage that comes from living the life as opposed to dipping into the scene now and then because “we gotta have a blog story, people!” as is more typical.
Neither fawning nor dismissive, Chris turned in an excellent report on the volatile state of political blogs:
- The rising influence of online journals known as blogs has, along with online fund-raising, been one of the most fundamental, long-term changes in this year’s presidential election.
Politicians and the media are regularly tuning in to read these volatile Web-based journals, which instead of being fair and balanced zealously monitor the news, spout opinion and rumor, and always report things from the bloggers’ perspective.
Today the readership of some blogs is larger than that of major daily newspapers. And the influence they’re having now is what they’ve craved all along.
“There’s no question about it: [Blogs] are a key part of the political media,” said Eric Olsen, Webmaster of the Aurora-based Blogcritics.org, which hosts opinions on everything from music to politics.
….Weblogs were the first to report that documents used in a CBS exposé about President Bush’s military service appeared to be fake. Rathergate, as bloggers dubbed it, forced CBS and its news anchor Dan Rather to admit that the documents apparently were bogus..
There have been smaller victories as well. Bloggers called out Fox News last week for a story that included Kerry quotes fabricated by a Fox staff member. They also scolded CNN for allowing a Republican activist to sit on a panel for undecided voters discussing the debates.
For Tuesday’s debate of vice presidential candidates at Case Western Reserve University, a handful of authors were “liveblogging” the event – literally publishing commentary about the debate as it happened.
….Bloggers are a big part of this year’s other great phenomenon: online fund-raising. Web-based donations have allowed politicians to better harness small donors who will give less than $200, according to an online fund-raising primer published by George Washington University.
Web logs like Dailykos.com have raised more than $350,000 for a dozen congressional candidates, including Ohio Democrat Jeff Seemann, who is running in a Canton-area district and got $24,000 from the blog.
“It’s given us exposure on the Net and contributed not only to fund-raising, but it’s contributed to staff and volunteers,” said Tim Tagaris, Seemann’s spokesman who joined the campaign from Chicago after reading about him on Dailykos.com.
I was astonished to see this story – not only does this demonstrate a real, specific and immediate impact blogs are having in the political process, but I KNOW Jeff Seemann. He helped me on several levels with my Cool Tunes alt-rock radio show on Canton’s Rock 107 in the early-’90s and was an integral part of the wild success we had establishing a Cool Tunes night at the old B.B. McClain’s nightclub, which in the summer of ’92 was bringing in 1,500 crazed fans on Tuesday nights from all over Northeast Ohio.
- More than 3,000 people visited Seemann’s Web page on Wednesday, compared with the campaign’s usual daily traffic of about 150 hits, spokesman Tim Tagaris said.
“We know that the Internet and the blogosphere is not just an ATM machine, they deserve to be involved as well,” Seemann said, adding that traffic should continue as people return to the site to view pictures and updates from his day.
Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University, said Seemann’s move is a good way for long-shot candidates to raise money, but that it is unclear how attracting more Internet visitors will help Seemann win.
“If they’re in your district, that might help you a lot. If they’re not and they’re just going to tell their friends in Hawaii and they’re not going to vote, then it probably won’t do much good,” Darr said. “But they still can contribute, and that helps.”
Phil Noble, a political consultant who runs PoliticsOnline, said Seemann’s tactic is a good way to get ordinary people involved in politics.
“It attracts people to come and engage with your campaign in a way that is fun and interesting,” Noble said.