As you know, I have being studying social and media and politics at Stanford University. And the relationship between blogging an democracy was one of the most relevant issues that we had to deal with. Obviously, there is not a single conclusion but some spare ideas:
– Some people think that because of peer information production (mainly through blogging) more people are participating in the public sphere, which according to Yochai Bankler, will create a networked public sphere. The press is not mediating any more between citizens and government.
– Blogging has also become one of the largest fundraisers for the Obama campaign. Citizens can now act by themselves without anybody else’s mediation.
– Big political bloggers don’t speak to the general public but to fan groups. They are mobilizing people. Their job is about building associations and communities. It’s not about the general interest but about pulling people to take action.
– Most information that political bloggers use comes from traditional media. They just give to it a partisan filter.
– Some people are starting to wonder if blogs are really creating more democracy, as only the top bloggers do get real attention. One of them is Matthew Hindman, who in a book titled “The myth of digital democracy”, writes that “the Internet has done little to broaden political discourse but in fact empowers a small set of elites”. In fact, this is like the old media system, in which there were only ten large newspapers. Some people blame it on Google, whose pagerank system favors the biggest sites.
– Besides, in order to get influential, political blogs need to get the attention of professional press and political and social elites. Things have not changed that much.
– Many bloggers were on the payroll of political candidates (see chart from the New York Times), which shows that they are not as independent as initially announced. These same bloggers are also managing fundraising processes in the US.