I’ve mused a number of times about the potential impacts of blogging on politics and politicians, and the differences between various countries.
One longstanding blogging politician is Peter Black, a Liberal Democrat member of the Welsh Assembly, who has been at it for over five years. He has written an interesting piece on the impacts of blogging and the internet on politics, focusing particularly on Wales, but also the UK more broadly. The use of blogs by politicians in the UK is far more widespread than in Australia, but also different in tone and nature to those in the USA or those I’m aware of in some south-east Asian countries. If you’re interested in the general topic, it’s definitely worth a read.
If you are reading this article thinking that I am going to herald the advent of blogs as a new political camelot then you have come to wrong place. Blogs are a communication tool in the same way as any other. Like television, radio, and the dead tree press it is how you use them that counts rather than what you say on them. On their own they do not reach a wide enough audience to make any substantial difference, however when combined with other media they can be used to devastating effect.
There is no denying that the internet has the potential to change the way that politicians do their job or more importantly, to open up the commentariat to ordinary people, but as with every other innovation it will only succeed if it is used and read. Will politicians and the citizens they represent embrace this new technology?
In many ways blogs are just the vanguard of a more interesting phenomena, the rise of new media. This is a development that does offer the promise to transform our lives by changing the way that we access news and entertainment at home, making it more interactive, more accessible and offering the opportunity to localise and personalise content. If anything will change the way that politicians interact with voters then this will.
He also refers to an article by BBC journalist and former blogger, Ciaran Jenkins on the Cardiff School of Journalism website, which suggests “an anti-blogging trend amongst some politicians, who view the medium with suspicion and would rather it went away.”