Thursday, November 4, 2004

Weblogs Spill the Beans on Election Details - Perhaps Not Wisely

My ear caught a radio report this morning saying that about ten percent of Web election content traffic was going to weblogs while the remainder when to major media Web sites. That's one of those half-empty/half-full things: given that four years ago there was essentially NO weblog coverage I'd call that a pretty significant achievement. Most importantly, weblog readers tend to be opinion-makers themselves, providing amplification to their own local audiences. Thus it comes as no surprise that some prominent weblogs were used to leak details of exit poll numbers and other salient details during the course of the U.S. election day, as noted by WSJ Online. Spilling leaks is an old journalistic tradition, but in their enthusiasm to seem like big shots with the inside scoop I suspect that some of these webloggers may not have paused long enough to think about the motives of people handing them this information - and how that information would surely spread like wildfire through personal networks and influence voter turnouts by people who may have been pleased or alarmed by the leaks. While bloggers did a good job of acting as Newsmasters to keep people abreast of dispersed breaking stories, they added relatively little news or insight themselves during election day other than the strategically relreased tidbits that were fed to them. Yet that alone may be the story. Weblogs are still trying to find their place in authoritative journalism, but if they're serious enough to be manipulated by politicos for their own purposes then it's not very long before their voices will mature and amplify news and events far more effectively and professionally.
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