How the Blogosphere changed the Election

Much has been made of the blogosphere, and the twitterverse and many have questioned the value of this level of meta-chatter as part of our national political discourse. The blogosphere has been debunked as the “echo-chamber” little more than a place where like minded people repeated their opinions (often based on bias information) back to each other in an endless loop. Even we here at thinkPOP have questioned whether or not the blogosphere simply increases the liklihood of us living in a fact-less world.

From a post in our days as Policythought:

…But in the age of the internet it’s far worse than that. I can ensconce myself in ideological blogs and podcasts, the echo-chamber effect. And when empirical evidence begins to pop up that my ideology or political leader might not be right, I can simply recreate reality through unfounded stories and minority reports…

…The Internet for all it’s power to share information, might actually be encouraging people to pull further into their demographic an ideological enclaves than explore others…

That’s the down side of world of blogging, tweeting, and facebook-status changing that we now live in. But there is an upside, and we saw it at play this week.

The sense many were getting from John McCain rallies across the country was that his supporters had taken on an ugly “some have called it “hard edged” tone. It was one of those stories everyone felt was true but there wasn’t much evidence of so it never gained traction. This is also the kind of story the main stream media (a term I really hate, please someone come up with a better one) can’t really cover effectively. Polls and surveys never accurately reflect something as touchy as racism. And once a film crew and news reporter come in to take video all of the sudden people are on their best behavior.

Enter the citizen journalist, enter the blogger.

While he clearly had an agenda in making the video, his being an “average Joe” citizen not only made it more likely for people to answer honestly, it gave a forum for people to speak their minds. It was just a guy with a camera, not CNN. But when this video went up on youtube and linked to small blog after small blog, then to the major blogs like Politico, the MSM had no choice but to pay attention to a very real story that was captured and exposed on video for the world to see.

That eruption has shown the ugly side of McCain’s support and has fundamentally changed how McCain deals with some of these folks. Just today, Politico is up with another field report of an uncomfortable exchange between McCain and some supporters at a rally. The point here is that citizen journalism that exposed a real truth about the campaign changed the narrative of the race. That is the power of the blogosphere and the new media age. We need to embrace that power as a way of legitimizing the media landscape Americans find less and less trustworthy.

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