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My (Page)View on Political Blogging

Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on November 12, 2008 No Comment

This story just caught my attention this morning: a seven-year-old named Stanislaw “Stas” Gunkel, who’s been providing political commentary on his blog, was lauded by (now) President-Elect Barack Obama five days before Election Day. A 2nd grade blogger, in the national media spotlight for political blogging! I could barely contain my happiness; blogging, people, has arrived.

Blogging has received a great deal of interest during the campaign season; some view it as a powerful new force in grassroots level political engagement, others see it as a disruptive, dangerous force capable of quickly disseminating unfounded smears. [There’s the middle path, but that’s not that interesting-he he.] Regardless of which camp you belong to, you can’t deny the pivotal role blogs played in the recent elections.

Like millions of others, I found myself constantly visiting DailyKos, the Huffington Post, America Blog, the Jed Report, AndrewSullivan.com, Think Progress, the Corner in the National Review Online, the Daily Beast, the NY Times’ Caucus, the CNN Ticker; I probably contributed to at least hundreds, if not thousands, of pageviews over the last few months.

What made blogs so popular? For me, one of the coolest aspects of this is that there’s a great deal of intertextuality that fascinates me…commentaries are sprinkled with links to other articles, images, videos. Blogs also support community building in powerful ways; most are open to comments, and some threads extend to thousands; most blogs also allow you to share the blogs quickly and easily on social networking sits like Facebook, Digg, and others. [Blogs also generally allow you to comment only when you’ve registered, so it kind of “forces” you to pledge your readership allegiance before you can have your voice heard.] And blog readers are more overtly referenced within blogs, I find, than readers are referenced in newspaper articles. The writers in blogs are rarely invisible; they get a byline; they are very visible, even if they only use a pseudonym. The blog reader is not just reading a news story; he or she is reading a news story written by someone, a someone who’s personality peeks out through posts.

As a blogger, I couldn’t be happier at the great traffic successes of blogs during this season. DailyKos had 9 million pageviews on election day, Andrew Sullivan had over 23 million pageviews this October, and Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and the Drudge Report also numbered millions of unique visitors (see table below). A fluke? A flash in the pan? No, the future.

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