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Blogging as a Dissident Media

November 30, 2007

The Internet has become a vital part of the modern day world. People turn to the Internet, not just for e-mail, entertainment, and research, but also for news and information on the things going on in the world around them. Beginning in the 1990s, Americans began deserting not only newspapers but also the major networks, going to cable TV, the Internet, and forms of new media that seem to be born each day [2]. Theses days, it is so easy for almost anyone to access the Internet, and have a hotbed of information at their fingertips, and contribute their own assortment of information, as displayed by the class project for Dr. Danna Walker’s Dissident Media class.

It has given anyone the opportunity to be a journalist; reporting on topics they see fit, and putting them out there for the world to see. It has served to bring those, young and old, into the public discourse, giving those who may have felt voiceless prior to the Internet [4]. The world of blogging has taken off since its birth in the early days of the Internet and millions of people have created blogs. Online blogging sites like Blogger.com are so user-friendly, that they “allow anyone, no matter how little Internet savvy he or she possesses, to create and maintain a blog” [3].

Blogging has taken the role as the most recent from of dissident media. “They [newspapers] have become so ubiquitous in cities over a certain size, during decades when so many other new media formats have sprung up, that the very notion that they represent a crucial “alternative to a monolithic journalism establishment now stains credulity” [3]. Blogging is providing an outlet for those fed up with mainstream media. Bloggers have become the dissident voices of the new millennium.

Blogging has grown immensely from its early days. It is no longer merely an online record of the Web sites the person visits, but a source for information itself; including news, opinions, and discourse [3]. Blogging has allowed the everyday Joe to get his ideas out there for people to read. As many of them do reference other websites they have visited, they provide connection and discussion. They allow, “through hyperlinks from publications to permanent Websites, for readers to be informed, not merely of the most recent event—as in daily newspapers and TV news programs—but to be continually reminded of the movement’s overall mission statement, goals, and past accomplishments—a service that traditional news outlets refuse to provide” [2]. They are bridging gaps where mainstream media has failed. They are able to provide people with the most up-to-date information, while at the same time linking this to past happenings and other matters that may add insight.

Bloggers are providing insight and discussion on all sorts of topics. Since almost anyone can blog, “almost every criticism about blogs is valid—they often are filled with cheap shots, bad spelling, the worst kind of confirmation bias, and an extremely off-putting sense of self-worth”, but in turn there are also those who provide sophisticated contributions, claiming large readership, instilling change [3]. Many blogs have grown such followings that they seem to hold comparable circulation to some mainstream media. With numbers of visitors per day in the 100,000s, these dissident forms of media seem to be making a huge impact on the world.

The size of the numbers is not the only thing so astonishing. The mere fact that those 100,000s of people are from places all over the world shows just how much influence blogging is gaining. Blogging has been able to provide the world with something that conventional form of media has fallen short in doing, bringing together people from all over the world to discuss and share their thoughts and ideas. “It allows individuals in far-flung locations to come together, to share, and to build the strong ties and sense of community—united in ideology even if separated by geographic distance—that foster a true grassroots movement” [2]. There is also the fact that bloggers have gained ground as “citizen journalists”, in 2004, gaining press credentials to the Democratic National Convention [1].

They are instilling discussion in matters of great disputation, and the need for some reform, and are gaining ground. Blogging is “changing what is euphemistically called the national conversation” [1]. The assignment that our class was given on creating discussion on the issue of renewing political debate is a testament to this. We sought to inspire dialogue through demanding reform of the political debate structure, and we did just that through our blog talkmonkey. We were able to experience the blogging world first hand and create our own dissident media. We wrote about what we wanted to change and how we wanted to change and found those that supported our cause and linked to them in attempts of creating larger interest and involvement. Though the effectiveness of our blog itself is not as great as we would have liked, we still made lasting contributions (as they will be preserved on the Internet) to the world of blogging and dissident media.

[1]Skube, Michael. “Blogs: All the noise that fits.” Los Angeles Times 19 August 2007.

[2] Streitmatter, Rodger. “Voices of Revolution; the Dissident Press in America”. New York: Columbia University Press. 2001.

[3] Welch, Matt. “Blogworld and its Gravity”. Colombia Journalism Review. 2003

[4] Vargas, Jose Antonio. “Storming the News Gatekeepers; On the Internet, Citizen Journalists Raise Their Voices”. Washingtonpost.com. 27 November 2007.

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