Blogging politics: journalism as usual?

Tom Bakker, Klaus Schönbach and Claes H. de Vreese (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

The potential of online journalism and its performance in comparison with traditional journalism are the subject of many discussions. In this paper we take a closer look at the nature and characteristics of a popular form of non-traditional journalism, public affairs blogging. Questions have been raised as to what extent blogging about public affairs forms a distinct journalistic genre and if it is changing traditional journalism. There have been concerns about whether lower entry levels to journalism and less rigid editorial processes may cause a decline in journalistic quality. However, the potential to create both more diverse news coverage and a closer relationship with the public has also been underlined. In this paper, we first propose a typology of public affairs blogging, in comparison with traditional journalism. We summarize research about blogging, reviewing what is known about its producers, content and audience. We also discuss studies that describe the context in which blogging operates and the effects of public affairs blogs. Our results show that most blogs are not maintained by lay people, but often by media professionals, political pundits or people otherwise affiliated with journalism or public affairs. The producers of these blogs often strongly resemble traditional journalists in terms of their quality standards. Furthermore, the audience of political weblogs does not seem to differ significantly from the offline news media audience. Nevertheless, blogs have a more personal and opinionated slant than is common in traditional journalism. Bloggers tend to be more independent and work more individually. They are also more transparent in their working process and maintain a closer relationship with their readers than is common for traditional journalists. It seems that some of the fears about the quality of blogs may be overblown, and that traditional journalism could take advantage of some of the popular features of public affairs blogs.

Timing - Friday - Panel Session A1
Download Full Paper - Bakker et al.pdf



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