As noted here earlier, one of the expanding roles of bloggers is that of political educator to the public. To that end, I often refer students to Watchblog, whose principle of “critique the message, not the messenger” and its three-column-formatted roundup of blogging by “Democrats and Liberals,” “Moderates and Independents” and “Republicans and Conservatives” provides a one-stop marketplace of ideas.

I recently interviewed David R. Remer, Watchblog‘s Managing Editor, who is also President of Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy.

PBB: What is the essence of Watchblog, that is what do you see its role and function in the world of blogs?

Remer: IMO, the essence of WatchBlog is its capacity to maintain civil discourse in what is ultimately a public laypersons arena where they can pretend to become politically active. When one is paid by a party to disseminate political information, that information MUST conform to supporting that party regardless of issue or event. Political truth is in the eye of the beholder and there are a number of opposing beholders out there. WatchBlog assembles non-professional consumers of political news, events, and philosophies who are capable of acceptable writing skills, and gives them a platform upon which to extoll the virtues of their analysis as consumers of political news and events to other consumers of political news and events, in a relatively safe social environment.

In other words, the essence of WatchBlog is political news and event discussion by, and for the lay person without the fear of being bashed or threatened personally for disseminating, defending, or discovering their “political truth”. Go to a store or restaurant and try to engage strangers in a political debate. It won’t happen, or if it does, it carries the risk of elevating to a physical conflagration. WatchBlog gives writers and responders alike a safe place to exchange ideas, critique each others views, and hatch new truth’s from differing political viewpoints.

In addition, it is not unusual at WatchBlog to see partisan writers critical of their own party’s actions or spin. In the world of commercialized politics this is very rare. This adds a dimension of credibility and respect for WatchBlog as a site and its participants and fosters a steadily growing audience for consumer driven political news and analysis not as readily found in the original spin issued by the paid consultants, PR firms, and political party leadership.

PBB: Blogs are both praised and condemned for their partisanship. How do you see the role of comparative and contrasting partisanship such as you present on your web page in offering people a “marketplace of ideas?”

Remer: WatchBlog operates from the assumption that with so many partisan points of view on any given issue or event, it is difficult to acquire a well rounded understanding of political news or events without weighing and assessing the validity of those partisan viewpoints side by side. Watchblog’s presents political issues, philosophies, and news from multiple partisan viewpoints. WatchBlog targets multiple audiences: some who seek to assemble their own understanding of politics from the valid arguments presented by all the partisan points of view, and others who seek reassurance by affiliation with others of similar persuasion. For political news and analysis web surfers, there are those who seek information and those who seek identity through affiliation with a political party. Watchblog attracts both kinds of audience. Those seeking information tend to value the side by side comparative analysis of differing political views. Those seeking identity tend to read and respond primarily in either the column representing their party, or the opposition column where they inject their party’s critique of the opposition party.

Those seeking information synthesize their views from the merits of arguments of multiple parties. Those seeking identity have the added value at WatchBlog of reading what to say in the column of their affiliation and rubber stamping that verbage in the opposition party’s column thereby deriving the enjoyment of role playing a political activist from their armchair and keyboard. Thus, WatchBlog has a much wider target audience and utility than a blog operating from a single party perspective.

PBB: What advice would you give journalists on how they can use blogs and bloggers as sources of information and opinion?

Remer: This is a very complicated question on which many books have been written encompassing the technological hurdles of scanning and sifting information from the exponentially growing number of blogs. My best advice to journalists would be to not let the numbers solely dictate the value of information gained from blogs. If journalists use harvesting software which uses statistics to point to blogs where topics are hot and gathering momentum, they may occasionally scoop an article for the mainstream media which emanates from blogs. But, following the herd is more often than not, going to fail to produce distingushing content. At best, it keeps one’s content current and competitive with what competitors are running most of the time in the MSM (main stream media).

Some select blogs are first and foremost a primary source for innovative political ideas and trends which may emanate from the citizenry as well as a source for feedback on how well the content issued by political figures is being received by differing classes of citizens.

One recommendation for journalists covering or sourcing from blogs, is to select a few blogs by articulate lay persons for monitoring on a regular basis for creative content as well as blogs which provide high quality lay analysis representing a particular segment of our society. For example, selecting a couple of blogs written by articulate but only high school educated working class or maternal bloggers, another couple by college educated middle class bloggers, and another few by managerial or entrepreneurial type bloggers and assessing the differences between their views of current political events like Pres. Bush’s state of the union speech. Such personalized response to political events or news by selected bloggers can flesh out the software harvested content sifted from the whole blog universe based on statstics as to what is grabbing the average citizen’s attention.

For editorial and op-ed pieces this can provide valuable insight as to how effective and why, the political news is being assimilated and responded to. Ultimately, blogs provide a kind of psychological insight into how political news and events in America are being assimilated and responded to. This is a kind of insight which statistical sampling of the blog universe will often not provide as they monitor short lived fads running through the blogosphere as opposed to entrenched ideas and stands being taken and defended over time.

PBB: Same question for my students, what advice would you give them on how to be smart consumers of blog-sourced information and commentary?

Remer: Look for attribution by bloggers. Bloggers who responsibly attribute their sources are doing much more than just voicing an opinion. They are analyzing with a conscience of responsiblility toward their visitors and sources. This is a quick and dirty way to weed out bloggers who string words together for nothing more than the sake of their own ego gratification.

Avoid rubber stampers. Avoid blogs which duplicate content and little more. They are a waste of time, save for their utility of linking through to the source.

Keep an eye out for non-profit organizational blogs. These blogs are rapidly going to become the seedbeds of new and cutting edge grass roots movements and can serve to reveal up and coming trends or news which may break as MSM stories in the future. MoveOn.Org was such a phenomena as is Common Cause currently.

Make a habit of reviewing blogger’s biographies. This is a short cut to determining whether a blogger is worth following for awhile.

Note whether advertising is displayed on the blog. Ads can offer some insight as to motivation of the blogger. If their content appears sensational and their blog contains paid ads, the blogger’s motivation is at least partially revealed as is the value of their content.

PBB: For politicians and political workers, what will be the future role of blogs in campaigns and elections?

Remer: Certainly not as flame fest free for alls. Blogs are first and foremost a free and easy way for citizens to blow off steam without having to really become politically active. That is the pitfall for politicians and political workers who seek to use blogs in campaigns and elections. Why donate $100 when you can regurgitate what your party or candidate wants to hear on their blog and walk away feeling like you contributed something of value? Or flaming and derogating opposition parties or candidates on their blog and feel like you contributed something of value.

The key to successful use of blogs by politicians and political workers will lie in skilled and finely honed design and constant management of the blog. While net surfers view the internet as free, the cost of establishing and maintaining a blog that furthers the aims and goals of a political campaign or cause, is not free, and the costs for effective blog management by political workers will continue to rise as time goes by. The reason is that such design and management requires a blend of expertise both in web site development and design ( a very brainy kind of experitise) as well as outstanding psychological and sociological education which is required to motivate appropriate blog participant behavior and discourage inappropriate behavior without appearing partisan, unfair, or arbitrary (more of an art)..

Those campaigns that lack such expertise will be limited to blogs that do not invite public participation within the blog itself, as in not making comments available to the public in response to written materials on the site by the campaign staff.

Certainly, interactive web sites for campaigns are here to stay for no other reason than the very inexpensive store front and gateway they present to the public for the purpose of joining, donating, or volunteering. But, this is still a very new phenomena where relationships are being built in cyberspace without the benefit of face to face and voice to voice interaction, although the technology is rapidly growing to permit such videophonic blogging in the near future. I would think that once the cost of videophonic blogging becomes affordable, campaigns and political workers will be able to in part replace door to door canvassing with their blogs, and keyed chat rooms for volunteers and volunteer coordination with actual real time conferencing which will reestablish the personal face to face bonding and interactive coordination that is now found in campaign headquarters.

More important, videophonic blogging will have the potential of turning every donor into a volunteer as well, by including them in project coordination and implementation. And this can be a huge cost saver for political campaigns since such coordination can become centralized and structurally formalized while incorporating members and donors into the process from any residence in the country. Just as consumers are not limited to what is available at their local computer store inventory because of internet shopping, political campaigns won’t have to establish local community offices from which volunteers work. Videophonic conferencing and interactive blogs may just revolutionize local grassroots politics in just this fashion, in part replacing expensive advertising and PR firm hiring just to to create public awareness that one’s campaign is active in their local area. Campaigns will have the potential of reaching right into peoples homes through the internet and videophonic interactive blogging.

Of course human touch won’t be a component, and such interactive blogging may never replace the need for pressing the flesh campaigning, but, it certainly can reduce the amount of time and expense of limited resources in reaching out and ‘virtually’ touching folks in their homes, on their Ipods, and even internet fed billboard displays which one can interact with using a mobile device.

And political action web sites are still up and coming, despite elected officials lack of ability in many cases to sift through and respond to all the emails and faxes generated by memberships of such ‘political cause’ sites. If there is a growing anti-incumbent punch in November’s elections, look for these political action web sites to be taken far more seriously by elected officials following the election.

Originally posted February 3, 2006 at PolicyByBlog

One Comment

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    Original Reader Comments (15)

    “even internet fed billboard displays which one can interact with using a mobile device.”

    Now that is an entrepreneurial idea I have never heard of before. Centralized campaigning through the internet is well underway. Interesting prophecy of interactive staff efforts through centralized internet videophonics. Not clear at this point if the cost savings would actually be realized however.
    February 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDroy

    Remer gives great advice to journalists about selecting blogs from several areas of society and using them to assess public opinion rather than relying on the “herd blogs.” As I read his response, I couldn’t help thinking how applicable this advice is to journalists in all areas of their work.

    In Baumgartner and Jones’ book Agendas and Instability in American Politics the authors devote a chapter to discussing the dynamics of media attention (Chapter 6). Through their research the authors determined that the “media play an integral role in the policy process by directing attention alternately toward different aspects of the same issues over time and by shifting attention from one issue to another.”

    Because of many different factors, the media only consider one side of an issue at a time and all other sides are ignored… until later when the attention shifts and a different side of the issue becomes the focus of attention. This process goes on continually with different sides of issues shifting back and forth.

    Perhaps if journalists followed Remer’s advice in not only keeping up with blogs, but also staying in touch with sources from all levels of society and not relying on one institution or one expert on issues, the media would do a much better job of reporting on “what is grabbing the average citizen’s attention.”
    February 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersmarin3

    In agreement with smarin3, I also thought Remer’s advice to journalists was especially interesting. “Because of many different factors, the media only consider one side of an issue at a time and all other sides are ignored… until later when the attention shifts and a different side of the issue becomes the focus of attention. This process goes on continually with different sides of issues shifting back and forth.”

    Ok…when I read that I instantly thought about the recent few publications of news regarding Georges Sada. You ask who is George Sada. He was Saddam Hussein’s top military advisor in Iraq for many years prior to the ousting of Saddam’s regime in 2003. He has recently published a book, Saddam’s Secrets, which according to some is “persuasive and well-documented” regarding Saddam’s biological and chemical weapons, which Iraq possessed and shipped to Syria prior to the exit of Saddam’s regime. (Oh yes, he supposedly did not have nuclear weapons, so you “Bush-haters” got him on that one!).

    So why have most of you probably not heard of this before now? One theory is that the MSM did not want you to know about it. Why would they after all “those lies that Bush told to manipulate the American public”. Those accusations would be hard to withdraw after so much passion. Few in the MSM made a big deal about this news story. Some, who did run the story, buried the story deep in the their publications, while others like FOX News, of course, did loudly broadcast the story. Conservative talk-radio host Sean Hannity actually interviewed Sada on FOX News a few weeks ago. So why has this not been made a bigger issue than it could be if found to be true? Weapons of mass destruction and Syrian involvement! Just the possibility of this being truthful information should be of a little significance. Enough on WMDs for now. Hopefully, we can discuss this matter at more depth after the information-gathering meetings, involving some U.S. senators, which have begun and hopefully later an investigation pertaining to what intelligence Sada may possess concerning Saddam’s WMDs.
    See (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,182932,00.html)
    Also see (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48604)
    And also (http://www.al.com/opinion/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/opinion/113861612340360.xml&coll=3)

    My point with this, other than to point out this simi-important news topic to the uninformed (not your own fault of course), is to show that this is the sort of news that the “lay person” as Remer describes, can assist journalists in identifying as wanted topics of information instead of having it ignored and buried by the MSM.

    This subject of what is news reflects me back to my reading of Walter Lippmann’s book, Public Opinion, where he writes “The hypothesis, which seems to me the most fertile, is that news and truth are not the same thing, and must be clearly distinguished. The function of news is to signalize an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” (pg. 226). A unsual concept that might be. Allowing the media to present the known facts (both sides) and then allow the common man (or woman of course) to develop public opinion on the issue. Maybe the media just needs some direction on identifying those “events”. This is, as Remer suggests, how the media can use blogs and bloggers as sources of information and opinion.
    February 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBigAL1993

    Putting emphasis on the interactive function of political blogs, Remer didn’t refer to blog advertisements at all when he talked about the future role of blogs in campaigns and elections.

    This reminds me of a recent research on political blog ads by an UTEXAS PhD Student Laura F. Bright. Have studied 74 blogs with 326 advertisements, she found that most blog ads were not for political candidates or organizations, but for products or services related to a political cause, such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and so on. Only 3% blog advertisements were for political issues, candidates, or parties. ( http://www.ciadvertising.org/sa/fall_05/adv392/lbright/www/index.html )

    Maybe blogs ads are not considered by politicians to be ineffective even with a low average price of $150 – 200 per week? Or its hidden value has not been found yet? The role and strategy of blog ads in campaigns and elections is left to be further studied.
    February 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commentereusuee

    To look at the layout of the Watchblog website is almost like looking at one of those presidential debates with the three candidates of various political disciplines standing behind their lecterns, each professing their own version of the world at hand.

    I can almost see in my mind’s eye the 1992 presidential debate with Democratic candidate Bill Clinton behind his podium on the left, independent candidate Ross Perot in the middle and Republican candidate George Bush on the right. Each had his own message to deliver, but there was just enough interaction between the three viewpoints to keep things interesting.

    It is the same with WatchBlog. It is one thing to go to the column that best represents your political point of view, but to get the full value of the site, one must read all three columns. It truly presents a “one-stop marketplace of ideas.”
    February 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHog79

    I thought the mention of advertising within blog sites was the most interesting issue in your post. In your interview, Remer stated while searching for solid and reliable political blog sites, one should recognize the advertising content. He said, “Ads can offer some insight as to motivation of the blogger. If their content appears sensational and their blog contains paid ads, the blogger’s motivation is at least partially revealed as is the value of their content.” I thought this was interesting. Now I will digress for a moment.

    I am glad Eusuee provided the link to Laura F. Bright’s journal article. As Eusuee stated, Bright analyzed 74 blogs, and she found 326 advertisements among the sample (http://www.ciadvertising.org/sa/fall_05/adv392/lbright/www/index.html). From the analysis, she found “ads were featured in most blogs, specifically in 92% of the sample, with an average of six (6) ads appearing in each blog.” She continued, “An overwhelming 45% of the ads analyzed fell into the products category, while only 3% were ads regarding political issues, candidates, or parties” (http://www.ciadvertising.org/sa/fall_05/adv392/lbright/www/index.html).

    Now back to Remer’s comment, “the blogger’s motivation is at least partially revealed as is the value of their content.” I am not sure exactly what Remer meant by this statement. If you look into historical contexts, advertising influenced the decline of the partisan newspaper and the rise of the unbiased commercial paper. Baldasty stated in The Commercialization of the News in the Nineteenth Century, advertisers in the late 1800s wanted the largest number of people and most appropriate market based on “class, location, purchasing power, religion, or even race” to receive their newspapers (p. 63). Nonpartisan newspapers, backed by advertisers, were the best means to reach the largest segment of people.

    In more recent times, the science of advertising does not work quite the same. Advertisers often advertise very directly to smaller, specific segments of people. This was one of the themes discussed in Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin’s documentary, The Persuaders (2003). With so many product choices and so many media outlets to receive advertising information for these products, the consumer, or in this case the blogger, controls the market. What does this mean? This may mean, unlike the nineteenth century, advertising does not always yield unbiased reporting or journalism. This may mean advertisers want smaller, biased target markets so it can directly advertise to a specific demographic of people to receive the maximum results for his/her advertising expenses.

    How does this tie into Remer’s initial statement? While I believe there is a very strong correlation between the advertising and the content of the site, I do not believe, in most cases (unless the advertising is distasteful), advertising reveals the “value of their content.” Advertisers will advertise on these sites because it’s likely a very effective method of advertising. Bright illustrated that advertisers already capitalized on 92% of political blog sites already. What is the other method of financial support for keeping up a blog site? One could pay for it out of their own pocket. One could also receive donation from blog users. I think both methods will yield more “sensational” content, in most cases, than an ad-based blog site.
    February 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNOLA7

    Remer is creating an ideal for what I would like to see in the online world, a space where reasonable people can have reasonable discussions about the issues of the day. This has the potential to actually push the discussion forward instead of the dueling sound-bytes and pull-quotes the mainstream media serve up. He has clearly articulated the need to check your sources, particularly when he mentioned that people who sign their real names tend to be more trustworthy. That taps into the ongoing discussion in print and broadcast media about anonymous sourcing. It’s a little ironic that anonymous sources in older media have generated skepticism in news consumers, but those same consumers don’t seem to apply that standard with online media. If consumers adopt Remer’s approach to managing the incoming information, there’s a good chance that blogging won’t wind up as bad as reality TV, which I view as possibly the greatest threat to the future of civilization.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa7005

    This blog is a great example of the marketplace of ideas put into practice. It is important, however, to note that Watchblog is only interested in a certain calibur of political blogging. David R. Remer made it clear in his interview that Watchblog publishes posts from people “who are capable of acceptable writing skills”. This observation is not meant as a judgement of Watchblog’s decisions of which authors to include. I just think that it is indicative of the nature of modern mass media: a small number of people decide for the rest which contributions are worth noticing. Part of the appeal of blogging is that anyone with access to the Internet can participate, but blogs like Watchblog are telling us which blogs are “acceptable”. This is giving us a taste of the future of blogging. Now, with the growth of streaming video and video blogging, this issue can only become more widespread. The Boston Globe quoted a man as saying (about vblogs), ”You’re deciding what you want to watch and when. It’s different than what we’re all used to with TV being scheduled and broadcast. This is your own little TV network”. This may sound very freeing until you think about its similarity to TiVo: are you really creating your own network, or are you making sure that you don’t miss any of the shows that you are “supposed” to watch? I believe that the growing popularity of vblogs will only inspire media moguls to find a way to set the agenda for blogs like they do for television.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdiversgirl

    One of the constant underlying themes explored on this blog is whether a blog can be, as PBB/Editor puts it, an “educator to the public.” I think there is a strong argument to be made that Watchblog and others like it are coming close to this ideal.

    The premise of Watchblog gets to the heart of another underlying theme discussed on this blog; the question of whether bloggers seek out only the views that reinforce their own or whether they seek out actual new information.

    This question is vital in any conversation about the educational power of blogs, and Remer’s addition to this conversation is important. His contribution is to say that both patterns happen on Watchblog. Anyone can browse Watchblog and see their own ideas reinforced. But it’s tough to miss the other views standing side by side.

    Especially inside a medium designed to enhance “usability” and “navigability,” Watchblog makes the marketplace of ideas about as navigable as it comes.

    This goal is what all public-service oriented media should aim for: the dissemination of a wide variety of ideas. And the Internet may prove to be the most effective at this; perhaps more effective than either print or broadcast have proven to be in the past.

    Watchblog fosters many of the best things about blogging. It’s not official party leaders but ordinary (though politically-involved) citizens doing the blogging. And as a blog, it fosters the idea that there is value (though perhaps not equal value) in many voices in the marketplace of ideas.

    Though I think Remer’s responses are in most cases well thought out and interesting, I am a bit skeptical of his observation that blogs ultimately “provde a psychological insight into how political news and events in American are bring assimilated and responded to.” Again, this opens up another topic discussed on this blog: Who is it exactly doing the blogging? Is it ordinary citizens or political junkies?

    As we discuss questions of education and view reinforcement, both journalists and students of mass communication must keep this question in mind.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterrepublic3

    It strikes me that there are many similarities between blogs and ordinary newspapers (or a few ordinary news papers combined).
    Remer calls Watchblog a “political news and event discussion.” So are newspapers.
    Remer is asked whether Watchblog, or blogs in general, is market places of ideas. So are newspapers, especially if you put more than one newspaper up against each other (compare the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times).
    Remer advises journalist who try to use blogs as sources to do good research and use multiple blogs as sources. The same principles apply to any journalism and even when a newspaper uses another newspaper as a source.
    Remer is asked how students can be good consumers of blogs. He responds by suggesting that good blogs use attribution, are not drive by advertising, and provide original content. These same is true for newspapers.
    And when asked what the future of blogs are in campaigns, Remer responds “The key to successful use of blogs by politicians and political workers will lie in skilled and finely honed design and constant management of the blog.” Isn’t this true of any media, especially relatively new media?
    Finally Remer remarks that “Of course human touch won’t be a component, and such interactive blogging may never replace the need for pressing the flesh campaigning, but, it certainly can reduce the amount of time and expense of limited resources in reaching out and ‘virtually’ touching folks in their homes, on their Ipods, and even internet fed billboard displays which one can interact with using a mobile device.” Of course it may never replace flesh campaigning. Newspapers also reduced the amount of time and expense in reaching out and ‘virtually’ touching folks in their homes. All of this leads me to question whether blogs are really anything fundamentally different than newspapers.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjohn444

    I agree with Remer’s statements concerning properly evaluating blogs for their content and credibility, as well as the journalistic approach toward using blogs as research, information gathering sites. Blogs can be created by anyone to express what Remer called a “relatively safe social environment,” where any opinion can be added and those who seek information or identity can find what they are looking for. I especially liked the Remer’s thought that blogs should be surveyed for the variety of content they make available, because as information seekers one takes in all viewpoints to help shape their political identity.
    The advice given in the interview about how to determine which blogs and bloggers are legitimate sources of information was a useful process when researching or simply reading blogs.
    While Remer brings up an interesting point about videophonic blogging, I am unsure if it will altogether replace the need for local campaign offices. Blogs allow a campaign to address a mass audience, however; as Remer mentioned the importance of “pressing the flesh” and how it will never replace human touch, and I think there will always be some need for a true interpersonal connection, rather than simply just online discourse.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commentervanguard15

    Videophony and videoconfroncening have generally been accessible only to large corporations and major companies due to their high operating costs and call for technological acumen. Recently, though, packet transmission technologies have made video conferencing type technologies less expensive and operable with greater bandwidths.
    France Telecom innovations says that “videophony will become a major tool and is being generalized in … the professional environment…and in anyone’s sphere.” Because they say third generation mobile devices and the internet lend themselves to videogrpahy and are generalized to “all segments of the public” technical tools and services are being developed in this respect. Innovative R&D teams say that the technology will spread quickly because “image enriches communications by contributing to the emotional context while facilitating mutual understanding and the appropriation of messages.”
    This aligns perfectly with why grass roots campaigning pressures may well be alleviated by the emotional connection videography will potentially create between party leaders and mom and pop communities that want to help.
    Already in place on the Internet in 2004, viedophony technologies made it possible for any savvy user with a microphone, webcam and a computer to have real-time dialogue across a local network or a DSL line.
    The possibilities generated by these types of technologies effect personal, leisure, business, health and education communications already. Why not political?
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterow1018

    Remer makes a noticeable and interesting point in advising journalists on how to cover or source from blogs, in that advising such a practice reinforces its existence. Journalists are aware of the potential ‘scoop’ blogs can provide them; much to the dismay of some, sourcing blogs is seemingly a new journalistic trend.
    If this trend increases in occurrence, and the mainstream press becomes increasingly influenced by the thoughts, feelings, ideas and voices of bloggers, then this would mean that the mainstream media would come to reflect the ‘voice of the people.’
    But wait, isn’t that the ideal of the mass press anyways? This question kind of slapped me in the face when I was reading an article, published in the Journal of Communication in 2000. Written by David Domke, the article researches the function of the press in the late 1800’s.
    “…In this environment, material in Southern newspapers was often presented as offering insight….with discourse in mainstream press content particularly cited as accurate representations of attitudes…”
    Basically, the article states that Congressmen commonly relied on citations from the press as rhetorical facts to back up their arguments. They cited the press because it was a common assumption that the press represented the majority of their public’s opinion.
    Not that I’d like our public to return to mentality of the 1800’s, but I don’t believe that it’s a widespread ideal that our modern press represents the attitudes of the country’s publics. It could be said that the press communicates the voices of politicians and elites, and distributes from such sources to the masses.
    If the trend takes off though, where journalists do actively attend to and cite blogs, then this may be a step back towards the ideal of the press representing the people.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlittle34

    Among the advice Remer gives on being a smart consumer of blog-sourced information is to watch out for sites where ads are displayed. He says, “Ads can offer some insight as to motivation of the blogger. If their content appears sensational and their blog contains paid ads, the blogger’s motivation is at least partially revealed as is the value of their content.” There are two distinct possibilities here that are equally troubling: 1) The blogger has some bias toward the advertisement appearing on his or her blog; or 2) The blogger’s intention is to make money of off his banners and he maintains a blog solely for that purpose. In both cases the visitor should be circumspect of the information contained in that blog.

    In 2004, the marketing company Marqui paid 15 independent bloggers $800 per month to mention Marqui at least once per week in their entries. Additionally, the blogs were required to include the Marqui logo somewhere on its page. Worked into the agreement was an incentive clause that paid out extra bonuses for qualified sales leads. (http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/print.php/3440401)

    This advertising ploy smacks of those old direct mail pieces with the messages on fake Post-It Notes “written” in handwriting fonts that say things like, “Joe, I thought you’d like this really great deal!” Very sneaky and very cheesy. Marqui claims that there is nothing sneaky about this method because it reveals the agreement in detail on its website and ‘“bloggers are urged – but not required – to disclose the relationship.”’ Give me a break. I’ve got no problem with advertising, but a recent study on BlogKits.com asked the question, “What is the primary reason you maintain a blog.” 18% cited “to make money” as their reason, and that number will surely grow over time.

    Visiting bloggers better beware: Any site that incorporates this method of conversational marketing has an agenda. Chances are that agenda leans heavily on the almighty dollar and not so much on truth.
    February 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterweezy138

    It was with respect and pleasure that I came back these many months later to read every comment above to this interview I participated in.

    I was very pleased that someone saw an entrepreneurial idea in the interview. And I was impressed that so many gave serious consideration to the issue of credibility and validity assigned to blogs. I am also very impressed with the caliber of intelligence and discourse by those who commented on the interview.

    It appears the time involved in the interview was well spent in that it generated focus and rational discussion to these important and future looking issues regarding the merging of politics, technology, and the blogosphere.

    Thank you all for the positive feedback and the concern over these issues of great import to our political and journalistic future.
    June 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDavid R. Remer

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