Obama’s Win: An Argument Against the Balkanization Thesis

There are plenty of reasons to side with either view of Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Blogwar by Balkanization” thesis: One could cite many examples, as he does in his book “Blogwars,” arguing for or against this way of looking at political partisanship in blogs and new media. Are the contributors and users of political new media warring partisans, constantly at odds with each other and tearing at each other’s thoughts – and throats? Or is that same group of contributors and lurkers seeking information to strengthen their views or finding information that enhances and increases their political knowledge and efficacy?

There was a time when one could easily argue for Balkanization, that political bloggers and other creators and users of new media were hyper-partisan, hostile toward and nastily at odds with each other (or perhaps less dramatically, fervently devoted to posting content attacking and questioning the opposition). Indeed, “bloggers tend to be both more passionate about their politics and more partisan than the average voter” (Perlmutter, 2008, p. 38).

The Daily Kos, for example, has since its inception in 2002 offered liberal views and often hurls attacks at the right. Or take Memogate, the infamous debacle that led to Dan Rather’s downfall at CBS: When right-wing bloggers started questioning the authenticity of erroneous documents critical of George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service, Rather and CBS continued defending their story – but relentless attention led Rather and CBS to admit they could not prove the validity of the documents (Perlmutter, 2008, p. 92). [Read more…]

The Balkanization of America

Are blogs and similar forms of interactive media responsible for the Balkanization of the American political body?

Certainly plenty of evidence exists to show the rifts are wide. Blogs are divided between left leaning versions, such as the extremely powerful Daily Kos, and those on the right, including the Drudge Report and Red State.

The divide isn’t limited to online interactive media, however. Fox Newsserves a population that wants an alternative to what has been described as a liberal media bias in broadcast. Radio talk shows serve a similar purpose. Political books and movies speak to alternative visions.

People have plenty of opportunities to hear, read and view opinions similar to their own. In blogs and other forms of OSIM, they have the opportunity to express their views and trade observations with like-minded people.

The problem is this: very few people are talking across the divide.

Agenda Setting
Agenda Setting theory posits that media do not dictate what people think, but they do dictate what people think about. In the days when the main sources of news were broadcast television networks and their affiliates and local and national newspapers, the agenda for public discourse was common among Americans regardless of political stripe. Opinions differed; the topics were the same. [Read more…]

Balkanization:History Swings Back Around

History tends to repeat its self far to often and usually in a way that people do not realize is a repeat. Blogs and other Online Social Interactive Media (OSIM) is creating a bigger divide in politics and partisanship. There is a catch though, this is not anything new, in fact it is history reverting to how politics used to be. One could argue that we have recently lived in a relatively partisan media free environment and that in its self is a historical anomaly.

In the book Blog Wars by Dr. David Perlmutter a chapter is dedicated to the argument and counter argument that blogs and OSIM’s are deepening the divide in partisan politics. Not to assert my opinion into this post, but I do agree.

These new online media sources, be blogs or partisan media sites, such ashuffingtonpost.commoveon.org or townhall.org, provide readers with partisan information but called news. Now these sites do relay the information, but in a skewed and partisan way. They do not go against their party or leadership and spend the time spinning information against their views. Needless to say we cannot call these sites unbiased or “fair and balanced” news sources. But people are getting their news from these sites. If a site like this tells your Obama wants to end the coal industry using quotes from a news article you believe it, it’s your source of news. But what happens when that site leaves out key information that misleads you on what Obama was really saying? [Read more…]

Perlmutter Dept. of State Talks: Manila & Kabul

Some other blogging and elections talks:

–David D. Perlmutter. International webtalk on “The American Elections and Online Social-Interactive Media” sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 3, 2008.

Read: The transcript of the webchat.

–David D. Perlmutter. Keynote Speaker. “The American elections.” Tele-Video Conference sponsored by by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, October 21, 2008.

Originally posted November 18, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

Perlmutter at Texas Tech on Campaign 2008

I was part of an invited panel and spoke several times at meetings and classes at the College of Communications of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Our host was Professor Tom Johnson. The subject was media and campaign 2008–of course! The other panelists included Michael Xenos, Louisiana State University; Elizabeth A. Skewes, University of Colorado; and Richard Johnson, University of Pennsylvania.

Some of my points:

  • Barack Obama’s victory was the result of the old and the new. Very effective traditional campaigning, ranging from getting out the vote to event organization to polling, were mixed with innovative use of new media, especially online social-interactive (OSIM) venues such as blogs, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and so on.
  • Barack Obama probably did not have a coattail influence on others running for office. The general Democratic Party brand was, in November, simply more popular than the Republican Party brand. But the massive publicity about Obama’s OSIM efforts and successes affected and will continue to affect other campaigns for office. Simply put, every sheriff, alderman, and state Congressperson is asking his or her campaign manager, media consultant, or 14-year-old daughter, “How can I use MySpace and Twitter to help me win?”

Originally posted January 31, 2009 at PolicyByBlog

Perlmutter at Jeremy Taylor Show

I was a guest on the Jeremy Taylor Show on 1320 am radio in Lawrence. Our planned topic was “What will happen next in politics and media and our personal lives after the very prominent rise of online social-interactive media in campaign 2008?”

Among my points:

  • It will be interesting to see how the Obama administration uses OSIM in governing and gaining support for policies, programs, and projects in a different or similar way than they did for winning votes and raising money for the presidential election. I suggested that it would be a mistake to overdo OSIM–that is, if all those who had given their text message address to the Obama campaign received a note from him daily, there would be a significant turn-off of interest and enthusiasm. Like all weapons in politics or war, OSIM outreach must be used prudently.
  • Second, referring to my previous post on a “slow blogging movement,” I wonder whether we will reach a saturation effect, with instantaneousness, interactivity, and the confusion of information and misinformation that is sweeping over us. Just as for the “slow food” or “localivore” movement, will people want to reduce the amount of stuff being thrown at them and seek out higher quality and even slower venues of news and political information?

Since Mr. Taylor and I are both World War II buffs, we also spared a few moments to discuss the movie “Valkyrie.” I noted that it is intriguing to speculate how much history would have been changed if some of the new communications technologies existed in previous eras. In the Valkyrie case, imagine the impact of instant messaging on the plot to kill Hitler!

Actually, you could make a case that there was text-messaging in the Third Reich….


Originally posted January 31, 2009 at PolicyByBlog

Darryl (From “The Office”): Everyone is a Paparazzo?

On this site and in my classes, we have talked a lot about the changes inpolitics and other parts of life and labor that easy Internet access, online social-interactive media, and the cell phone (with its picture, sound and video capture and upload capabilities) have occasioned. In politics, we know that the personal appearance is different because a politician never knows who in the audience might get them on video or record them in some other way and YouTube a quote or a rant or just a funny picture. Celebrities of other kinds–like athletes and entertainers–have always faced the dilemma of being “outed” while in private by paparazzi. Now in the same way that everyone is a potential journalist, everyone is also a potential paparazzo. What are the privacy rights of individuals anywhere–OUR GEOPRIVACY? Should ordinary fans or witnesses know or care? At a minimum, it is pretty clear that if a celebrity like, say, a star of a TV show, appears in a public venue, the public has a perfect right to and shouldn’t feel any ethical qualms about capturing him/her for wider viewing.

And let’s face it, celebrities thrive on celebrity and are using the new tech (like Twitter) to show off their own backstage lives (or parts of them).

Here is a case study: Below is the narrative description by one of my students, who encountered “Darryl” (actor Craig Robinson) from NBC’s The Office. The ethical nuance here is that Mr. Robinson was not quietly having a drink in a corner but performing for the crowd, so there is even less of a problem with deciding to “YouTube” him.


At the end of December break I went to a bar called Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar (Dallas, TX). A dueling piano bar is when two pianists sit at pianos that face each other as they play song requests from the audience. My friends and I were about to leave when we heard commotion and people running in our direction. I looked up from my friends and saw Darryl from The Office on stage. He showed up out of nowhere and began singing on one of the pianos. Everybody began taking pictures and recording him on their cameras and cell phones. It was really exciting to see somebody famous right before my eyes. My friend was taking pictures on her blackberry, and sent me an email instantly with one of the pictures she had taken. Darryl then played the opening song from The Office and disappeared as fast as he had appeared.

[Read more…]

Perlmutter on “The Blogging of the President”

David D. Perlmutter was not able to attend but his co-author (Monica Postelnicu, LSU) gave their presentation on “The Blogging of the President: How Online Social-Interactive Media Helped Obama Win” at the Broadcast Education Association 2009 meeting in Las Vegas.

Originally posted May 5, 2009 at PolicyByBlog

Mass Communication and Society on “New Media in the 2008 Presidential Election”

David D. Perlmutter and Tom Johnson (Texas Tech) will be co-editors of a special issue of the academic journal Mass Communication and Society on “New Media in the 2008 Presidential Election.”

Originally posted May 5, 2009 at PolicyByBlog

Perlmutter on Jeremy Taylor Show

David D. Perlmutter was a guest on the Jeremy Taylor Show on 1320am (KLWN) radio in Lawrence. He spoke about Facebook and other social media.

Originally posted May 5, 2009 at PolicyByBlog