Saturday, October 29, 2005

No Blah in Blogs

The word is that Massachusetts and its local political parties have little respect for or interest in blogs. While individual candidates treat bloggers like reporters, the party structures are peopled with neo-Luddites.

Sweetly, they may have to join this century with pressure from top and bottom. From the bottom, we see 1) blogs scooping traditional media, 2) some of the big blogs getting millions of hits a month -- more eyes to prize and surprise, and 3) print, online and broadcast media quoting bloggers, cross-linking with them, and citing them as sources. From the top, national parties and politicians have been savvy in their communication with and use of bloggers.

Now the Christian Science Monitor has put the Beltway spin on the state of this free-lance knighthood. It says everyone (except for the burned Trent Lott) is "wooing blogs." Even Dan Rather, also with his bad blog burn history, notes that blogs "aren't just reacting to the news: they're making it," the Monitor reports. This was very evident recently in IP traffic that helped scuttle Harriet Miers' Supreme Court bid.

Now politician want to engage or otherwise use them. For example, House Republicans selected a dozen of their staff's favorite political bloggers for the first Capitol Hill Blog Row last week. It was sodas, snacks, high-speed wireless, and GOP machers for half a day.

Among the aftereffects was:
As a follow-up, Speaker Hastert is launching his own blog. "Blogging is the new talk radio," says Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean. "People listen to talk radio because the mainstream media is too liberal for them. It makes sense for the Speaker to get the Republican message out to them."
The heavy-hitting blogs catalyze much of this interest. The Daily Kos is the prime example, with 3.4 million visitors in January growing to 4.8 million in July.

Both Democrats and Republicans feed stories (often ones the mainstream media don't know what to do with) and otherwise engage bloggers. Likewise, the candidates as well party officials get tips from their staffs, many of whom are avid blog readers.

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