When engineer and unpublished writer Bobby Eberle decided to start up his own political blog, he hadn't the fainted expectation of its current stature. Without an advertising budget or prior journalism experience, Eberle created the ‘conservative blog' GOPUSA, which provided daily news updates and political commentary to a modest four hundred subscribers. GOPUSA is now one of the most highly regarded political blogs on the net, presently reaching 500,000 subscribers. The attention and feedback generated by this blog helped land Bobby Eberle an interview with President Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove.
Bobby Eberle's personal experience with political blogging draws attention to how dynamic weblogs have become within our modern political arena. Blogging has quickly emerged as a popular and important means of communication, reaching millions of readers inexpensively and simply. Weblogs have introduced an innovative method of journalism to mainstream communication, serving as an outlet for internet-savvy audiences looking to openly discuss political issues. Jimmy Orr, the White House Internet Director, recently characterized the “blogosphere” as instrumental, important, and underestimated in its influence (www.foreignpolicy.com ). Without a doubt, political blogs have already significantly affected our political processes.
Blogs have allowed us as communicators to react and respond faster to political news, and to a broader scale audience. Political blogs make it a point to offer immediate posts, providing remarks before other forms of media even have the opportunity. Blogs exist as a powerful way of providing constant commentary on political issues, closely resembling a ‘grass-root' campaign aimed at encouraging political involvement. Essentially, political blogs have become a "fifth estate" in terms of communication resources.
Political blogs have driven political awareness, helping to make politics more understandable and accessible to young adults. During our past presidential election, Mark Memmott of USA TODAY, quoted U.S. Senator Barack Obama of saying, "Although I can't match faces to blog sites, bloggers have just been doing a fantastic job…One of the most exciting things is how they're energizing young people.” Young adults typically rely more on online methods of journalism to receive information, making political blogs an excellent way for political parties and organizations to reach this demographic. The Campaign for Young Voters recently ran a survey that showed that political blogs were among the most popular means of media a candidate or political organization could successfully reach America 's youth. Campaign strategists and party leaders have since adopted political blogs as a way to introduce newly eligible voters to the world of politics.
If you can book a hotel online, and take part in countless auctions on EBay, why not financially support your favorite candidate via weblog donation? Political blogs have presented excellent opportunities in online fundraising, leading to the birth of the ‘ campaign blog. ' With at least half a million people accessing the top political blogs per day, it seems somewhat illogical for bloggers not to take a shot at online fundraising . Financially c ontributing online takes less than a minute, and virtually costs nothing when compared to the millions of dollars spent on others methods of fundraising. As Michael J. Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute stated, "Anything which expands the number of small-dollar givers is good for democracy”, and continuing political weblogs' online fundraising programs are an excellent way to do so. During our 2004 presidential election, the power of blog political fundraising achieved remarkable milestones. 'Blog for America' , the official blog for former presidential candidate Howard Dean, hosted its own successful online fundraising system. This political blog's fundraising efforts individually rose more tha n seven million dollars for Dean's campaign.
Who are political bloggers? No longer just ‘online diary keepers', bloggers have come to provide a new voice to political journalism, assuming the titles of respectable ‘online journalists.' Political bloggers are writing and posting reports that convey analytical perspectives that strive beyond the "he said, she said" so commonly associated with political journalism. Majority of bloggers have united the idea of an online journal with the desire for progressive journalism, and have been able to surpass print's conventional formats for political commentary. An excellent example would be ‘Baghdad Blogger' Salam Pax , who launched a political blog in the style of an online diary focusing on life in Iraq during wartime.
The creation of the political blog has given inexperienced writers a particular niche among journalism's elite. Political bloggers who have launched independent weblogs have become ‘self made' journalists, gaining their own level of credibility and recognition. Blogger and creator of DailyKos.com, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, was invited to travel with Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean after her journalistic talents were praised thanks to her political blog. Several established print journalists have also embraced the realm of blogging, accepting it as an attractive alternative to freelance reporting. Former Associated Press and New York Daily News reporter Christopher Allbritton has launched his own political blog based on his travels throughout Iraq , and former CNN Correspondent Rebecca MacKinnon has embarked on a new career in online journalism, writing as a political contributor for her own blog as well. In years to come, we can expect a continued rise in 'new media journalists', which will predictably enhance the power political blogs seem to already have on American politics.