Tuesday, November 25, 2003

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All Things Considered on blogging

Last night NPR’s All Things Considered ran a story last night about how campaign blogs and “independent” blogs (their choice of words) will affect the 2004 election and politics more generally. Their abstract says:

Online web logs are a resource for political junkies of every political bent. Candidates blog, their campaigns blog, volunteers blog, and countless observers blog, too. It remains to be seen how the political blogs will influence the campaign process.

You can listen to it here. Having already heard it, I have two thoughts:

  • Never have I heard a voice drip with more condescension than when the NPR announcer provides the lead-in with the opening sentence, “John Kerry has a blog.” As part of a transcript, the line reads as neutral as the color beige. On air, the tone of voice says, “let’s see how bemused I can sound about this phenomenon that may be important in the future but as of now is still insignificant enough to be mocked.” [Maybe he was being condescending about Kerry and not blogs!—ed. Hmmm…. That could be a possibility, with poll numbers like this.]

  • I like Josh Marshall’s point (about 3:20 into the piece) about “choice audiences.” That’ll have to go into the blog paper.
  • Tomorrow morning on WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight program (which airs from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM Chicago time), I will be commenting on blogs as a new media form. Blogs will be discussed, however.

    posted by Dan on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM


    Dan, your link to Josh Marshall does not seem to point me to the "choice audience" comment.

    posted by: ch2 on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

    Lessig has been fighting this for a while. It will be interesting if there will be retrospectives about blogs influencing the decision in the same way the youth vote helped Clinton (allegedly).

    posted by: PB on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

    I think it is possible to overestimate the impact of an NPR reporter's tone of voice. Actually, I think it is likely that blogs collectively will have a much greater impact on NPR over the next couple of years than the other way round.

    posted by: Zathras on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]


    Would you expand on that? It's an interesting idea, and I'd like to know more about how you see that happening.


    posted by: JimP on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

    Maybe he is referring to something I see around campus more often now than I did as an undergrad in '97; that is, I see people focus on their local Indymedia site, as annoying as those are, and advertise for their own blog or independant paper and I get the impression these people are putting much more into those activities than people that would staff NPR, at least (although some do both).

    This is just from the Omaha and STL perspectives, but I see a shift for two reasons:

    1. The greater potential for exchange, the greater audience, etc. that the internet has, and

    2. The lack on constraints.

    If anything, I think NPR, to maintian having college kids come work for it and become interested in it, might locally try to incoprorate some of these concepts that blogs have made so popular (in politics at least).

    Or I could be rambling...

    posted by: PB on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

    When I heard the opening line, I thought the announcer's tone of voice concerned his use of the word "blog," which might be unfamiliar to much of his audience. However, the announcer did tend to discount the value of blogs, so perhaps his contempt for the medium was reflected in his tone. His report surprisingly failed to note how key Dean's blog has been in his success, merely mentioning that Dean was the first to have a blog.

    posted by: David on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

    "Never have I heard a voice drip with more condescension than when the NPR announcer"

    Listen to BBC TV news at 6 PM eastern if you want to hear condescension and sneering that has no equal.

    My husband think he should hear what the enemy is saying, but I must leave the room. It makes me positively retch.

    posted by: erp on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

    Interesting thread. A couple of comments:

    Since "joining" the blogosphere in January 2003, I increasingly take more and more of my news content from blogs.

    One, it has opened my eyes (even more so than before) to bias in the t.v. and print forums;

    Two, I was already dissatisfied with "local news" (t.v. or print) -- which seems to focus on the shooting du jour.

    Three, as to both of the above, there is little depth in the reporting. Sound bites and trends, and very little follow up. I can surf blogs and be exposed to policy questions/issues/impacts that I just don't see in the other forums, or would take me too long to read (i.e., I'd have to read several different papers front-to-back to glean substantive news. In the blogosphere, I can readily find "pointers" to substantive issues, and pursue those in other media if desired). I also find the web provides much more economic news than other typical sources, although I am still trying to winnow the wheat from the chaff in this regard (because of my ignorance of the topic). But at least it is available for me to wade through on the web.

    Of course, I think it easy to "ratchet down" one's content in the blogosphere (i.e., tend to focus on a chosen subset of blogs with which I agree), but the same can be said of other media. And I am much more likely to be exposed to alternative views with just a bit of "link surfing" than I would via other means (other than personal discourse and interaction -- which, on consideration, I think is what the blogosphere represents, "once removed.")

    The primary point at this time, I think, is the relative number of blog readers. Those of us using this mechanism see it as readily available. But I think if you looked at the overall populace of the U.S., you'd find it is still small number of people who harvest their news/views from this medium.

    I think that will change. And I think it will change the traditional news sources that compete (and eventually collaborate) with it.

    posted by: cj on 11.25.03 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

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