Online Campaigning 2008: Blogs and Information mobility

Last spring, two hours after he used his Des Moines Register blog to ridicule a suggestion by a Hillary Clinton aide that she skip the Iowa caucuses, David Yepsen's phone rang."Senator, why are you calling me?" the veteran political reporter asked. It was the former first lady.

"I read your blog," said Clinton, who quoted from his posting while insisting that of course she wasn't going to skip Iowa.

Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, Friday October 26, 2007

Howard Kurtz looked at how the “mushrooming number of political blogs on newspaper and magazine Web sites has altered the terrain of the 2008 election” in his excellent article Mainstream Blogs Open Floodgates for Political Coverage in Washington Post, this Friday.

In the article, Kurtz reviews how the creation and blooming of the political blogs on newspaper and magazine websites has changed the news cycle, and how this affects both political reporters and campaign strategists. Today, compared to Election 2004, “…journalists and political strategists find themselves sparring more and more over smaller and smaller items on shorter and shorter deadlines”, says Kurtz.

Whilst campaign officials have learned to take advantage of the speed and the information mobility that blogs present, “leaking favorable tidbits—a new poll result or television ad—and quickly disputing negative items”, journalists find themselves struggling with “the constant pressure to update blogs, thereby drawing more Web traffic, leaves less time for reporting and reflection”, argues Kurtz. “In the pre-Internet age, campaign officials routinely slipped reporters negative information about opponents, sometimes over drinks at the local watering hole. But they had to wait at least until the next morning for it to be published. That process now unfolds around the clock”. Many of the political advisors that Kurtz talk to in his article argue that they take even the briefest blog items serious because the information mobility blogs present is so great the within an hour a story could be everywhere.

The political communication is becoming a whole new ball game both for political officials and journalists. Kurtz article demonstrates just that, and I recommend you take time to read his piece.