The Growing Influence of Blogs
Danny Glover of the Beltway Blogroll Blog has posted a very thoughtful and comprehensive piece he wrote for the National Journal tracing the history of how blogs have risen to prominence in political debates:
These days . . . there is plenty of chatter about blogs — and with good reason. The technology has taken firm root in the capital. Since summer, bloggers have testified before Congress and the Federal Election Commission; have been invited to Capitol Hill for exclusive interviews with lawmakers and to participate in conference calls with administration officials; and have spurred heated debates on everything from Supreme Court nominees to pork-barrel spending. . . .
Today, far more blogs are focused on Washington than was the case a year ago, when the Social Security debate was at its height. Think tanks and their wonks have them. So do trade associations, watchdog groups, and other special interests. . . .
Only one congressional blog existed before January 2005, but in the year since then, 17 lawmakers, the Republican Study Committee, and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee have started blogs. Several more members of Congress regularly or occasionally make guest appearances at group blogs such as Marshall’s TPMCafe and The Huffington Post on the left, and RedState on the right.
“Blogs are becoming more respectable,” said Henry Farrell, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and a blogger at Crooked Timber. Citing the debate over Social Security as an example, he added, “People are beginning to figure out that blogs do have real impact.” . . .
In a February 2004 study, George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet found that 69 percent of blog readers are “influentials, or opinion leaders and trendsetters with their friends and neighbors.” Institute Director Carol Darr said in a recent interview that the news and political junkies who frequent blogs are like “honeybees, kind of feeding the culture” with the information they gather and with their comments and diaries at the sites.
There’s much more worth reading in Glover’s post.