Does blogging help the democratic process? (this Friday)


by Sunny
7th April, 2010 at 12:02 am    

On Friday I’ll be speaking at this event at the Frontline Club as part of World Press Freedom Day:
‘Unregulated political comment online helps the democratic process’ – Motion for and against.

Naturally I’ll be for the the motion.

———-
How will online journalism affect this year’s UK General Election? For good or bad, it is certain the internet will carry more breaking news, more character attacks and more contentious comment than ever before. The bloggers will be busy and their stories, true or not so true, will spread like wildfire.

We have also had the arrival, since the last election, of online TV and radio channels, some of them run by newspapers, especially News International’s, which run to heavy political agendas without any regulation or legal requirements on fairness. Will all this be good for democracy and the fair conduct of the election, or not? Where will it leave the strictly regulated public broadcasting sector?

Join us for this year’s World Press Freedom Day debate as we ask, is unregulated political comment online helping the democratic process?

Moderated by William Horsley, Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM); Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

With: Sir Robert Worcester, MORI/Ipsos Group; University of Kent; Caroline Thomson, BBC; Prof Steven Barnett, University of Westminster; Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy and Nicholas Jones, author, previously BBC; Paul Bradshaw, Birmingham City University; Online Journalism Blog (OJB).
———


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  1. cjcjc — on 7th April, 2010 at 8:13 am  

    The Frontline Club has lots of excellent events.
    Can’t make Friday alas.

    Who is against??

  2. Rezwan — on 7th April, 2010 at 9:09 am  

    Looking forward to reading more about this interesting and important discussion. Can we watch online?

  3. damon — on 7th April, 2010 at 4:42 pm  

    It could be argued that it’s a bit of swings and roundabouts.

    My last three years spent reading blogs and trying to interact with people online has been a mostly frustrating experience.

    Helps the democratic process?
    Maybe.
    Probably, overall.

  4. Paul Garrard — on 7th April, 2010 at 9:44 pm  

    As a blogger I’d have to answer “Does blogging help the democratic process? (this Friday)” with ‘probably not!’

  5. Naadir Jeewa — on 9th April, 2010 at 12:01 am  

    Depends.

    Henry Farrell (Crooked Timber / Monkey Cage) did a decent paper on the American context:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/blogpaper.pdf
    Summary here: http://crookedtimber.org/2008/07/01/blogs-participation-and-polarization/

    “So whether you like political blogs will depend to some extent on whether you prefer deliberation across party lines to participation, or vice versa. Personally (at least as regards political efficacy in the current era), I’m on the vice versa side, but we leave this question deliberately open, as people from different perspectives may disagree.”

    An earlier paper by CT’s Eszter Hargittai looked at the actual content of posts:

    Certainly both conservative and liberal bloggers are more likely to link to those who share their political orientation. A figure closer to -1 suggests more insularity. There is no clear trend toward becoming more isolated in conversations over time, however. (We are in the midst of coding data for additional weeks to allow for more detailed analyses of the trends.)

    Of course, it is possible that all interlinking across liberal and conservative blogs happens in a manner that is void of substance. To address this point, we undertook a content analysis of a subsample of the posts in our study (140 for now to be exact). We found that about half of the links represent what we classify as strawman arguments. The liberal bloggers in our sample are more likely to engage in such cross-linking than the conservative bloggers. However, we also found some evidence of substantive cross-linking. In these cases bloggers may either agree or disagree with the other person, but they do address the content of the other blogger’s post. Also, we did not find that bloggers address the substance of those who resemble their point-of-view very often either.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2005/05/25/cross-ideological-conversations-among-bloggers/

  6. Naadir Jeewa — on 9th April, 2010 at 12:02 am  

    Depends.

    Henry Farrell (Crooked Timber / Monkey Cage) did a decent paper on the American context:

    Summary here:

    “So whether you like political blogs will depend to some extent on whether you prefer deliberation across party lines to participation, or vice versa. Personally (at least as regards political efficacy in the current era), I’m on the vice versa side, but we leave this question deliberately open, as people from different perspectives may disagree.”

    An earlier paper by CT’s Eszter Hargittai looked at the actual content of posts:

    Certainly both conservative and liberal bloggers are more likely to link to those who share their political orientation. A figure closer to -1 suggests more insularity. There is no clear trend toward becoming more isolated in conversations over time, however. (We are in the midst of coding data for additional weeks to allow for more detailed analyses of the trends.)

    Of course, it is possible that all interlinking across liberal and conservative blogs happens in a manner that is void of substance. To address this point, we undertook a content analysis of a subsample of the posts in our study (140 for now to be exact). We found that about half of the links represent what we classify as strawman arguments. The liberal bloggers in our sample are more likely to engage in such cross-linking than the conservative bloggers. However, we also found some evidence of substantive cross-linking. In these cases bloggers may either agree or disagree with the other person, but they do address the content of the other blogger’s post. Also, we did not find that bloggers address the substance of those who resemble their point-of-view very often either.

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