Came across a good column by Jonathan Kay at the National Post (yes, I read the competition) about the string of victories — depending on how you define the term — involving political blogs and the current federal election campaign. As Jonathan describes, there have been half a dozen cases just in the past month or so in which bloggers have pointed to behaviour or commentary by candidates and other party staff that raised questions about their judgment: a Winnipeg blog called The Black Rod broke the news that a Liberal party candidate believed in 9/11 conspiracy theories; Big City Lib wrote about a Conservative candidate’s inflammatory comments on the Greyhound killing and gay activists; and bloggers turned up anti-Semitic comments from a Green Party candidate.
Jonathan notes that some people believe these kinds of events make the blogosphere more important than the mainstream media, but he doesn’t think that’s the case (and I agree). As he puts it:
“Some commentators have argued that bloggers have now become more important than the mainstream media (MSM)…. But the Hughes story, and others like it, in fact betray a more complicated relationship between the blogosphere and the MSM. True, the blogs put Hughes’s name on the lips of millions of Canadians.
But the bloggers weren’t in a position to turn up the heat on Dion by sticking microphones in his face, and asking him when, exactly, he was going to sack the woman. For that, you needed professional journalists with travel budgets, press passes and, well, microphones.”
I’d prefer to think of blogs and “citizen journalism” as being part of the larger continuum of journalism, in addition to the mainstream media. Jonathan’s column has some good examples of how the two can work together.