Some new works on blogging and politics:

The latest cover design of my forthcoming book, BLOGWARS (Oxford University Press).

Two recent research articles on blogging:

David D. Perlmutter & Mary Schoen. “If I Break A Rule, What Do I Do, Fire Myself? Ethics Codes of Independent Blogs,” 22(1) 2007: 37-48, Journal of Mass Media Ethics.

Svetlana V. Kulikova and David D. Perlmutter. “Blogging Down the Dictator? The Kyrgyz Revolution and ‘Samizdat’ Websites.” International Communication Gazette, 69(1) 2007: 29-50.

Also one older one for reference:

David D. Perlmutter & Misti McDaniel. “The Ascent of Blogging.” Nieman Reports, 59(3) Fall 2005: 60-64.

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Next: A 2006 Survey of Political Bloggers.

Details follow….

Dr. Dhavan Shah (dshah@wisc.edu)
Dr. David D. Perlmutter (ddp@ku.edu)

Collected survey data in Dec. 2006 from:

(a) cross-section of the top political bloggers
(b) thousands of blog visitors to these websites

66 bloggers from 58 blogs participated

Sampled from top 150 political blogs

3,909 readers from 40 blogs responded to reader survey.

73.8% Male, 26.2% Female
43.1% Dem., 30.7% Rep., 14.2% Libertarian, 1.7% Green
Mean age = 46; Median income & edu. = $60-80K & some grad school
Mean time spent reading blogs = 3.7 years; 2.1 hours/day

Study One:

“From Expression to Influence: Understanding the Change in Blogger Motivations over the Blogspan,” Brian Ekdale, Kang Namkoong, Timothy Fung, Muzammil Hussain, Madhu Arora, and David D. Perlmutter (last author from University of Kansas; all others from University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Recent studies on political blogs have focused on blog content and blog readers, but little research has been done on prominent political bloggers themselves. This study fills this research gap by providing an exploratory examination into the motivations of some of the most popular and influential American political bloggers. Our findings demonstrate that this set of bloggers has experienced an evolution in motivations over the course of their blogspan – the period during which the blog has been in existence. These motivations, which include the desire to “let off steam,” “earn money,” “influence opinion,” and “help society” almost all increase over time – signifying that blogging has an empowering effect. Notably, the motives related to extending political influence demonstrate the greatest increases. We argue that this change signifies a transition among blog authors from regarding web logs as an internal, expressive form of communication to seeing them as an external, persuasive mode of political advocacy and citizen journalism.

Study Two:

“The Blogosphere and Democracy: Hostile Media Perception, Information Selection, and Political Participation,” Hyunseo Hwang, Kjerstin Thorson, Porismita Borah, Rich Cleland, and David D. Perlmutter (last author from University of Kansas; all others from University of Wisconsin-Madison).

This research examines whether individuals are driven to use political blogs in part because they perceive their viewpoints as under-represented within the mainstream news media. This perception of media hostility may influence patterns of media use, particularly information seeking in online settings. The widespread availability of alternative information channels on the Internet has reduced the costs of finding like-minded information sources on blogs and other ideologically situated online news sources, enabling selective exposure to a supportive set of political ideas. In this paper, we first look at how alienation from mainstream news media shapes study participants’ information source selections. We then explore the paths that begin with alienation from mainstream news media, leading to supportive, like-minded blog use, and culminating in political participation. The results consistently revealed that hostile media perception leads to decreased use of mainstream media while increasing the use of supportive political blogs. The results demonstrate that supportive blog use is positively associated with discursive participations such as expressing one’s criticisms of the media, voicing one’s own views, and/or discussing one’s opinions with others, countering perceptions that like-minded blog use does not activate civic engagement and political action.

Study Three:

“Online and Offline Activism: Communication Mediation and Political Messaging Among Blog Readers,” Homero Gil de Zuniga, Emily Vraga, Aaron Veenstra, Ming Wang, Cathy DeShano, Dhavan Shah, and David D. Perlmutter (first author from University of Texas-Austin; others from University of Wisconsin-Madison; last author from University of Kansas).

Political bloggers are viewed by many as lone voices, socially disconnected and working apart from the traditional mechanisms of participation. Critics assert that their audiences exist in an echo chamber, repeatedly exposed to uncritical reports that polarize but do not mobilize. This research challenges that view by examining the ways in which the members of blog audiences engage in the political process. Previous research on population cross-sections has found that Internet use for information seeking and political expression facilitates participation by complementing the effects of offline modes of communication (newspaper reading, television news viewing, and face-to-face political talk). Similar online and offline pathways to participation are observed among blog users, who are found to gather public affairs information and discuss political issues in conventional and virtual settings. These dual routes to participation are observed for a range of participatory behaviors, from online expressive participation (e.g., sending email to an elected official) to offline collective participation (e.g., working for a political candidate). We conclude that blog audiences are activated into a range of participatory behaviors through their use of a diverse set of informational and communicative resources.

Originally posted October 19, 2007 at PolicyByBlog

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