Before this class I had never really thought much about the blog world. Less then a
decade ago there were almost no blogs in existence. It was not until 1999 when a company called
Pyra Labs, later bought out by Google, created a program called Blogger, making blogs simple
and easy to create for the masses.(Welch) I assumed bloggers to be mostly complainers and
people with too much time on their hands. I had never even heard of blogs such as Politico or
Technorati. It has now gotten to the point where I read updates from several different blogs a
With the coalescing of the American media into fewer and fewer hands the ability of anyone to set up a blog has created a modern version of Wayland’s citizen journalists that were the core of The Appeal to Reason. As Prof. Rockwell pointed out the more corporate the media the less it tends to get into any issues that could potentially spark controversy. Thanks to blogs now anyone can share their views without fear of having their advertising pulled for controversial statements.
Whether or not blogging is actually dissident media depends entirely on your point of view. On one side you have bloggers themselves, many of the most important of which see themselves as members of the mainstream. Markos Moulitsas, the head of the popular Daily Kos, was quoted as saying “we are representatives of the mainstream.” (Skube) This is countered by members of the more traditional media sources. The subtitle of the article by Michael Skube “the hard-line opinions on weblogs are no substitute for the patient fact-finding of reporters” sums up much of the opinion of traditional journalists towards bloggers. (Skube) Many of these journalists view bloggers as little more then political hacks ranting about whatever they fancy and with little care for facts or the other side of the argument.
However as blogs get more popular the idea that all of them are simply pointless opinionated rants is becoming increasingly untenable. There are now numerous examples where blogs do indeed go out and do their own investigative reporting. The instances of this occurring are far too numerous to mention, but include bloggers going to Iraq to report on the war effort, as well as attending and reporting on all of the political debates and campaigns.
In most cases bloggers are unable to obtain the necessary financial backing to perform in depth journalism. For many of them there role is largely in keeping politicians and the larger news organizations honest. This has been shown to be true in several high-profile cases during the relatively short period of the blogospheres existence. The Drudge Report was the first to break the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998. More recently Dan Rather was fired from 60 minutes when bloggers questioned the authenticity of several documents Rather used in one of his reports.
Blogging can be a double edged sword. Some would argue that it is the be all end all of modern media, as corporate owned outlets focus evermore on starlets and their troubles. While not necessarily focusing on the issues as much as they should, most mainstream media outlets portray their news from a relatively middle ground. Blogs on the other hand tend to be very one sided. Politically biased blogs such as the Daily Kos and Red State, which each have received 10’s of thousands of mentions and links from other bloggers, are the most popular. (Vargas) This means that instead of getting both sides of the story blogs help to intensify the polarization that exists between America’s political factions.
The case of whether or not blogging is dissident media completely depends on the individual blog itself. While the idea of the blogosphere itself breaking away from traditional media is in itself dissident, the fact that it is becoming so mainstream means the title of dissident media now varies from blog to blog. Blogs such as Politico and Technorati would be considered relatively mainstream because while they both provide good well researched information, they say little that would upset or go against the ideas of the mainstream. However blogs like the Daily Kos routinely have things posted that create great alarm for television commentators such as Bill O’Reilly. I believe the future of blogging is incredibly bright. Without the need for multi-million dollar studios they are able to bring the news to the people for far cheaper then television or radio. This allows them to be less reliant on massive amounts of add revenue and get back to focusing on important events.