||This article may contain excessive, poor, or irrelevant examples. (June 2012)|
A political blog is a form of internet blog (a portmanteau of the term web log) covering politics. From the rise of the first political blogs in the late 1990s, the medium has been associated with individuals often operating outside the formal political and media establishment. In many countries, however, the most prominent bloggers have now become an accepted fixture in the political milieu. Political blogs have unquestionably shaped the political leadership and voter behaviour, especially in the United States.
- 1 Format
- 2 Bias of political blogs
- 3 Political blogs and participation
- 4 Examples
- 4.1 Australia
- 4.2 Canada
- 4.3 Denmark
- 4.4 European Union
- 4.5 Finland
- 4.6 Israel
- 4.7 Italy
- 4.8 India
- 4.9 Malaysia
- 4.10 New Zealand
- 4.11 Pakistan
- 4.12 Sri Lanka
- 4.13 Sweden
- 4.14 Switzerland
- 4.15 Turkey
- 4.16 United Kingdom
- 4.17 United States
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Political blogs usually take the characteristic form of other outlets in the medium: a series of discrete "posts" displayed in reverse chronological order. Readers can contribute information or opinion relevant to a post by submitting comments, thus allowing readers to help shape and build the story. It is this interactivity that distinguishes blogs from other static websites.
Bias of political blogs
Many political blogs are considered to have an explicit or implicit political bias. But according to research from Brigham Young University political scientist Professor Richard Davis found that most people who closely follow both political blogs and traditional news media tend to believe that the content on blogs is more accurate. The study also found that blog readers still get most of their news from regular news sources, but they suspect habitual bias. Data from this study is supported by the propaganda model. Stating political bias at the outset is therefore seen as being more honest. People also have a tendency to follow political blogs that agree with their personal opinions.
Political blogs and participation
There are differing views as to whether political blogs constitute political participation. One view is that political blogs are used as a public forum for discussing the community, candidates, policy and voting. Another view is that political blogs are not about political participation but are merely online ‘soapboxes’ for people’s political expression. However there is correlation between readers of political blogs with voting, support of a political candidate and attempts to persuade others to vote a particular way. The readers of political blogs are also able to interact with the author through the comment section.
These do not have the same notoriety as blogs in the United States for "breaking stories" or potentially ruining the reputations of politicians or journalists. They have also not generally attracted the same mainstream media attention which comes along with those activities, although in July 2007 the Murdoch owned The Australian used an editorial to attack the credibility of a number of blogs which had called into question the interpretations of opinion poll results by one of the paper's columnists. A directory of Australian political blogs can be found here.
All major newspapers have launched blogging communities in 2006-2009, on which politicians and commentators have their own blogs. They are linked from the newspapers' front pages.
The European political blogosphere is very active. Beyond the official blogs of European Commissioners, there is also Blogactiv, a blogging platform dedicated to European political actors. A dedicated search motor based on Google CSE also exists.
Probably the best known political bloggers in Finland are Jussi Halla-aho, who has become famous for his texts that criticize immigration and multiculturalism, Green League politicians Osmo Soininvaara and Jyrki Kasvi, J. P. Roos, professor at the University of Helsinki, and Erkki Tuomioja (Social Democratic Party). In May 2008 Finnish political blogger and extreme right activist Seppo Lehto was sentenced to 2 years and 4 months in prison on several accounts of libel, slander of ethnic groups and violating peace of religion in his blogs. Among the plaintiffs were court officials of his previous trials, left wing politicians as well as a prominent African resident of Lehto's home town Tampere.
Israel's was among the first national governments to set up an official blog. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs started the country's video blog as well as its political blog. The Foreign Ministry also held a microblogging press conference via Twitter about its war with Hamas, with Consul David Saranga answering questions live from the worldwide public in common text-messaging abbreviations. The questions and answers were later posted on IsraelPolitik, the country's official political blog.
There is an increasing number of political blog about Italian politics. Beppe Grillo's blog is the most viewed in the country: The Guardian has stated it as the 9th most powerful blog in the world.
With the continued awareness of Internet in India, Indian political parties are having more and more online presence. In 2009 Sanjay Jha launched HamaraCongress, a political blog catering to Indian National Congress. In 2013 Jwalant Patel  and Chintan Trivedi  launched NationsRoot.com, India's first political startup which started with a motive to become a voice which brings about a change in the nation. NationsRoot has profiles of all the MPs, MLAs, CMs, States and Constituencies of India where citizens can complain, discuss and praise the developments taken up by their leader. NationsRoot is also India's first Grievances redressal system.
Due to the strict media controls and censorship laws such as the Internal Security Act and Sedition Act imposed by the Malaysian government, the Internet is often used as a form of media to circumvent the restrictions. On January 11, 2007, 2 Malaysian bloggers, Jeff Ooi and Ahirudin Attan, were sued by the New Straits Times Press (NSTP), a government controlled newspaper. The Malaysian court ordered Ooi to remove more than 10 postings on his blog that the NSTP claimed were libellous by January 17. Ooi is prohibited from republishing those postings in his blog or on the Internet until the disposal of the defamation suit filed by New Straits Times Press (NSTP). The lawsuits are the first of their kind in Malaysia.
In recent years it has gain traction as the leading form of alternative media available for the public to voice out dissent and criticism against the Malaysian government. One example of the use of political blogs is the successful organisation of a pro-democracy rally, 2007 Bersih Rally which managed to gather over 40,000 participants although it was declared illegal by the ruling government.
These blogs are a combination of news-based and issue-oriented blogs. The only difference is that they focus on many different issues and present both news and analysis. In Pakistan, a major obstacle to this type of blogging is the threat from different political organization to whosoever writes against them. This threat acts as self-censorship to many bloggers.
Sri Lanka is a country burdened with a civil war going for a period of more than 30 years. This highly politically conscious nation is the home for some of the most widely read political blogs in Asia.
Political blogging in Sweden has been recognized as a potential political force since the spring of 2008, when protests against a bill proposing a change in legislation regulating the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) within the blogosphere contributed to putting the issue on the top of the news agenda in Sweden and forced the Government to make concessions in order to win support for its proposal in the Swedish Parliament. Debates surrounding issues such as data privacy, copyright, file-sharing and the surveillance society have continued to be influenced by the blogosphere to a high degree. Political blogs operated on a professional basis include Politikerbloggen which is syndicated by TV company TV4 and which includes gossip, news, analysis and opinion pieces.
In Switzerland, direct democracy has a long tradition. Direct democracy can be defined as a form or system of democracy giving citizens an extraodinary amount of participation in the legislation process and granting them a maximum of political self-determination. The origins of Switzerland's modern system of Direct Democracy with formalized opinion polls and frequent referendums lie in the experimental phase of democracy in the 19th century when Switzerland was surrounded by monarchies on the European continent that showed little to none enthusiasm for democracy.[original research?] Political blogging in Switzerland shows a wide variety of political opinions.
In Turkey, according to KONDA research company 42 percent of the Turks even believe that Internet is more harmful than useful. On the other hand, in November 2011 the Turkish government put its new filtering policy in practice. Turkey is now the first country within the OSCE which provides a government controlled filtering system. Per contra, 15.559 web-sites are already blocked in Turkey by court order or by administrative decision.
At the same time, Turkey has a problem of freedom of press. Approximate 100 journalists are imprisoned for their journalistic activities. In this context Turkey fell back ten places to number 148 in the 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index.
Political blogging in Turkey has a very problematic atmosphere. However, there are some notable blogs working in that atmosphere like bilgilidunya.net. Another noteworthy example is Beyn.org, which was a personal blog until 2013, then turned into a multi-author blog about politics. Beyn.org is the first blog among Turkey who has been sued by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey.
The most prominent political blogs in the UK include Guido Fawkes and ConservativeHome on the right with Liberal Conspiracy, LabourList and Left Foot Forward on the left. Although the right-wing bloggers were previously seen to predominate - both in terms of traffic and influence - the left has been credited with a resurgence with the success of newer blogs such as LabourList and Left Foot Forward.
Although the influence of political blogs on the government is growing this has been accompanied by criticism of their content. A former leading adviser to the government has criticised their anti-establishment nature for fuelling a "crisis" in politics stating that there should be more emphasis on working together to solve problems rather than making hostile and conflicting demands on politicians. Some bloggers are blamed for encouraging citizens to remain in a "perpetual state of self-righteous rage", behaving like "teenagers" who are "increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government." The director of the Press Complaints Commission has called for a voluntary code of conduct similar to that governing newspapers and magazines due to the current lack of redress for those angered by their content.
Between 2009 and 2012 an Orwell Prize for blogging was awarded.
Notable blogs and bloggers
According to Wikio, the top ten political blogs in the UK are:
|1||Liberal Conspiracy||Broad left magazine-style site edited by Sunny Hundal.|
|2||Left Foot Forward||Founded by Will Straw, providing "evidence-based analysis on British politics, news and policy developments".|
|3||LabourList||Largest Labour-aligned blog. Founded by former spin doctor Derek Draper.|
|4||Guido Fawkes' Blog||Popular right-of-centre blog by Paul Staines.|
|5||Liberal Democrat Voice||Independent blog aligned to the Liberal Democrats.|
|6||ConservativeHome's Tory Diary||Founded and edited by Tim Montgomerie, previously chief of staff to Iain Duncan Smith .|
|7||Political Scrapbook||Described as a left-of-centre equivalent of the longer established Guido Fawkes' Blog.|
|9||ConservativeHome Platform||Platform section of the ConHome site.|
|10||Guardian Politics Blog||The Guardian's blog on politics, politicians and political news|
While many countries have political blogs, the influence of such blogs on political discourse is most prominent in US politics. Political blogs in the US, either published in the bloggers' own domains or interest-specific blogging platforms such as Blogster, often have an open and well-defined liberal or conservative bias.
The first major scandal that blogs participated in involved remarks made by then U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, when the senator remarked that U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Strom Thurmond, who ran on a segregationist platform in 1948, would have made a good president. The continued attention of bloggers, such as Josh Marshall, kept the story alive and drew media attention not only to the event itself, but Lott's previous comments along the same lines and association with groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens. Research by a Brigham Young University political scientist, Richard Davis, found supportive data that also suggests political blogs have become an echo chamber that extends the shelf life of news stories.
Political blogs attracted further attention as a result of their use by two political candidates in 2003: Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Both gained political buzz on the Internet, and particularly among bloggers, before they were taken seriously as candidates by traditional media outlets. Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, made the Internet a particular focus of the campaign. Both candidates stumbled in the end, but were, at one time or another, thought of as front runners for the Democratic nomination. Senator John Kerry, the eventual Democratic nominee in 2004, maintained a blog on his own campaign site, as did his opponent, President George W. Bush.
Conservative bloggers assisted in President Bush's 2004 re-election by criticizing a CBS 60 Minutes story in the final weeks of the general election campaign, which purported to have new evidence of favoritism toward Bush during his National Guard in the 1970s. Blogs such as Little Green Footballs and Powerline raised questions about the authenticity of CBS's documents, which were followed up by traditional media, until CBS admitted the documents could not be verified and retracted the accusations. This incident not only fed into conservative claims of "liberal media bias," it also helped to defuse questions about Bush's Guard service as a campaign issue.
A significant instance of political blogs influencing politics occurred during the 2006 Virginia Senate campaign. In that campaign, S. R. Sidarth, who is Indian-American and was acting as a "tracker" for challenger Jim Webb's senate campaign, was sent to video record incumbent republican Senator George Allen during campaign stops. During one such campaign stop, Sadith recorded Senator Allen calling him a "macaca". The term refers to a species of monkey, and is regarded by some as an ethnic slur. The video was posted on the popular video-sharing site YouTube. The story was picked up by local media, and then by national media, due to heavy attention by blogs such as the liberal blog Daily Kos. The media attention has been widely cited as a key reason why Senator Allen was defeated by now-Senator Jim Webb. One consequence of the macaca event was to end Senator Allen's presidential ambitions. In addition, the defeat of Senator Allen was enough to give senate democrats a one-vote senate majority when the 110th Congressional term began.
Political blogs have also had drastic implications on political leaders themselves. Some political leaders have greatly benefited from broad audience base the internet provides.[who?] One such example is Howard Dean of Vermont, who raised unprecedented campaign funds via the internet through the use of grassroots blogs and his own website. On the contrary, some politicians have greatly suffered due to the increased exposure political blogs provide. Former United States President George Bush was frequently followed by blog sites online. In other cases, political blogs can serve as comic relief and are seemingly harmless to government officials.
Bloggers have also taken it upon themselves to promote and help finance candidates whom they believe are not being properly supported by the party establishment. Such support from bloggers was cited as a critical factor in the surprise victory of Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown in the 2010 special election. Bloggers in the Brown race promoted a moneybomb which raised over $10 million for the candidate 
Notable American political blogs and bloggers
- Citizen journalism
- Politics of Australia
- Home and family blog
- Demographics of the Canadian political blogosphere
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