Policybyblog is the blog of the webzine PolicyByBlog.com.

It addresses possibly the most significant phenomenon in modern politics, public affairs, political communication, and campaigns and elections: The adoption of the weblog, or blog, by institutions, advocacy groups, government agencies, political parties, commercial corporations, lobbying and public relations firms, and especially political leaders and candidates for elected office.

A few years ago, the thought of a blog run by Disney or hosted by the Republican Party or written by a United States senator would have been at least startling and at most highly innovative. Blogs as a new technology, venue, genre, and species of Web page have a relatively recent origin. The term was not coined until the late ’90s, and blogs as we know them did not really become widely popular and recognized until the 2003-2004 election season. At that time, one of the major cachets of blogs, which still prevails today, is their independence. Blogs were feisty newcomers, outsiders, fringe dwellers, expressing often partisan political views, sniping at each other and the mainstream media, inciting revolutions in all forms of politics and political communication. And the honesty, sincerity, and unrestrained freshness of independent bloggers was, for many of us who spend our lives studying political communication, a joyous contrast to the industrialized, slick, pre-packaged, safe, pseudo-evented, and photo-opped and canned world of modern professional communication.

I still have a romantic attachment to the independent blog, which, as I am writing about in a book on political blogs to be published by Oxford University Press, represents a revolution in human affairs, the ability of anyone with access to a computer and a Web connection to create political messages theoretically available to a wired and wireless planet. Indeed, it would be a disaster if blogging or a majority of blogs went corporate or became mouthpieces for political elites.

But I do not believe that the era of the indy-blog is over. Just like blogs did not and will not exterminate mainstream media, independent blogging is in no danger of being corralled or curtailed by media companies or political parties.

But the fact is that all sorts of institutional communicators are “blogging up.” Many are doing so out of “old world panic”: older managers and consultants seeing some new communication craze coming along and insisting on the need to “get into this thing.” Nevertheless, we are entering the era of the professionalization of at least part of the blogosphere.

Whereas in the 2000 election season blogs were hardly mentioned by reporters, political scientists, or candidates, now it seems that everyone involved in public communication of any kind has a blog or plans to start up a blog. Policybyblog is an attempt to understand this phenomenon in progress. Many of us who have joined in this enterprise have credentials in examining various aspects of the world of new media and public affairs. Each of us has our own specializations, ranging from corporate communications to the military and the media, the environment, advocacy groups, local political organizations, political leadership, and so on. We offer our opinions and analysis fully recognizing that we are taking snapshots of a moving train whose destination is unknown. We all agree, however, that murky though the future of the professional blog may be, it will play an increasingly vital role in all of our lives, whether we blog or not.

Policybyblog (the blog) and PolicyByBlog (the webzine), then, will keep you apprised of news from and analysis of the world of professional blogging. Since we too are a work in progress, we welcome your comments and constructive criticism, and if you feel you have some unique insight or experience, we invite a more formal contribution.  –dp

Originally posted November 3, 2005 at PolicyByBlog

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