Blogs and the Effect on the Coming Election Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2253 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Government

Political Science

Blogs and the Upcoming Election

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and analyze the topic of the 2008 Presidential Elections. Specifically it will discuss online blogs and their affect on the upcoming election, exploring the relationship between technology and culture. Blogs have become completely ubiquitous in our culture, popping up everywhere from personal Web sites to online newspapers and television show sites. It seems anyone who is anyone has a blog and it not afraid to use it. Blogs also played an important role in the 2004 presidential election, and they seem poised to play an even bigger role in the upcoming presidential elections.

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Twenty years ago, on presidential election night, most Americans would gather in front of the television to watch election returns struggle in from across the nation. In 2000, for most Americans it was television news reports that first broke the news Florida had gone for Gore, and then, that it had not. All that changed by 2004, when Internet resources and technologies played a much larger role in the election and how people got election results. One author notes, "This [2004] election also enjoyed the participation of millions of citizen contributors drawn into the campaigns by a variety of ambitious Internet sites that continually motivated, activated and informed their members with all the tools available and some invented just for the purpose" (Miller). Along with that, several 2004 presidential candidates had their own blogs, including John Edwards, John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Carol Moseley Braun. Already in this election, several candidates in both parties have blogs on their sites, including frontrunners in several polls, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. The heavy use of blogs in 2004, and the even larger use of blogs in the 2008 election indicate that technology has permeated our election culture, and has changed the face of the American presidential elections.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Blogs and the Effect on the Coming Election Assignment

Blogging has been around for at least a decade, in fact, it was Blogger Matt Drudge who broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton Administration (Rice 2). In 2003, 32 million people read blogs, and readership jumped 58% in 2004 (Cornfield 3). It seems there are even more blog readers and writers today than ever before, and that at least some of the bloggers will become incredibly influential in the 2008 presidential elections for a variety of reasons. First, bloggers cause "buzz" as it is known in the communications industry, and political bloggers often create more buzz than just about any others do. In a study of political bloggers, author Michael Cornfield notes, "Buzz is the sound heard in public when a lot of people are talking about the same thing at the same time. [...] but buzz can alter social behavior and perceptions. It can embolden or embarrass its subjects. It can affect sales, donations, and campaign coffers" (Cornfield 3). That is evident by John Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, which generated a large part of its revenue from online donations. This changed the face of how politicians viewed the Internet, and really opened up the political world to blogs, blogging, and the effectiveness of the Internet, especially on young voters.

Blogging can add a great deal of enrichment in people's lives, which may be one reason so many people are doing it. Entire blogging cultures have sprung up on the Internet, for everything from women's issues to politics and porn. Another writer notes, "Conceivably, the rise of a blog culture, even one composed primarily of nonpolitical, wholly personal diaries, may enrich the public sphere" (Froomkin 10). Indeed, blogging can enrich the public sphere, and one way it can do that is by getting more people involved in the political process, as Dean's campaign did. Many young people today do not fully understand (or care about) the political process, but having hip online bloggers explain it in terms they can understand and identify with is one way to get this demographic interested in politics. Young voters tend to get most of their information online, which is another change to our culture that is opening up new worlds of information and possibilities. As more candidates and parties recognize this, more technology will spring up to reach this new generation of voters, and so, by the 2012 presidential election, it seems that technology will dominate even more, and blogging will become so common, perhaps all the candidates will have their own blogs, and even maintain them after the election results are in.

In 2004, bloggers really did seem to have more information than mainstream media in many cases. Writer Cornfield continues, "However, the analysis also suggests that bloggers may have been positioned in the fall of 2004 as a guide for the mainstream media to the rest of the Internet" (Cornfield 2). In addition, 2004 was the first time bloggers were treated as media and blogged live from the Republican and Democratic Conventions. In 2008, surely this coverage will expand and grow, and more people than ever before will rely on blogging for their convention news. In a nation where caucuses are moving up, and the political convention may give way to caucus nominations, blogging is keeping the attention on the candidates and their issues, as well as the debate over moving and rearranging caucuses. More people read blogs, and so, more people seem to understand the issues and the results, and more people seem interested in these items, as well. This is changing our culture and our society to be a bit more informed, perhaps, but also much more attuned to finding the latest news online and in credible blogs, and so, the influence of political blogs continues to grow.

Of course, there is a dark side to this growing reliance on online blogs, and it also relates to changes in our culture. First, there is a tendency by many people to believe everything they read online as "gospel" or the truth, without bothering to identify or objectively choose the sites where they find their information. Another author notes that the Internet has sparked an instant information revolution, where "facts" and "truths" about candidates can be instantly verified. She writes, "[P]ractically every word uttered in print or on the air about either candidate immediately triggered web searches and blog updates as people tried to guess the 'truth' about the claims they heard. Several of the sites below grew up specifically to meet the needs of election 'truth-seekers' while others have longer histories" (Miller). What she does not say is that many of these "truthful" sites are actually managed by political bloggers with very specific agendas of their own, and they may not represent the truth, or anything like it, rather their own opinions, which many readers will take as the truth.

In addition, many sites simply offer non-verified and false information due to early reporting. Another writer discusses the many false reports that filtered onto the Internet directly after the 2004 election. "Early and misleading exit polls had seeped onto Web sites such as the Drudge Report and Slate and ricocheted through the blogosphere. Left-leaning bloggers were dishing merrily about Kerry's early leads in the pivotal states of Florida and Ohio" (Smolkin). Bloggers do not have to be accountable in many situations, as this shows, and yet society believes what they see online and take it as true.

Since a great many people get their information from political blogs online, how will this affect our culture in the end? First, most candidates' Web sites open with a campaign contribution plea that the reader can ignore and head directly to the Web site, or fill out and contribute. This plays on Dean's strategy of 2004, which shows that we learn from good experiences online, but it also indicates a larger trend in society. The faceless voter contributes to their candidate online, reads a few blogs, and heads off to the den to watch television or play computer games, where even a few years ago, that supporter might be encouraged to visit the candidate's local headquarters and perhaps volunteer as they made their donation. The Internet has made it easy for more people to become involved in a campaign, but it has also made it much easier for them to remain anonymous and relatively uninvolved in the campaign process itself. A recent study indicated that children today enjoy so many autonomous activities that they have trouble with social situations, and this trend could continue in the future, especially if increased reliance on online resources like blogs and other forms of information continues. Kids use iPods, computers, cell phones, and any number of technological devices to communicate, and because of this, many of them are having trouble creating real relationships and in social situations (McPherson and Smith-Lovin 355). In the future, we may be so plugged in as a society that we become socially isolated, and common activities such as volunteering for political candidates, and working election polling places, will be a thing of the past. Party volunteerism brings people… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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