Blogging for Politics: A Cacophony of Voices during the 2008 Presidential Election

By Mary Caton-Rosser, Dee Sleep, Caylen Groen-Jones, Heather Smith, Alicia McNeary, LiTing Sun and Odessa Backen.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Mass media have historically been relied upon as primary sources of news and information for the public. In 2008, an important presidential election year in the United States, ordinary citizens accessed political blogs at news websites, enabled by emerging new media and Web 2.0 technologies. Weblogs are inexpensive, easily developed, and generally non-commercialized tools of alternative mass communication within the rapidly expanding cyber terrain. While the blogosphere has been criticized as a public space that contributes to overwhelming amounts of unsubstantiated information, opportunities for citizen participation and learning have also expanded. Opinions and orientations are formed and reformed in a vast exchange of ideas. Our exploratory study followed political blog activity and gathered data on political participation and learning throughout 2008 leading up to Election Day at four U.S. newspaper websites: Billings Gazette, Rapid City Journal, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Denver Post. Our inquiry was guided by an integrated conceptual approach that includes consideration of Habermas’ public sphere, de Tocqueville’s voluntary associations, and uses and gratifications theories. The growing communication frontier of the blogosphere has created increased need for research and discussion of political blogging phenomena, examination of the cacophony of voices at political blog sites, and effects of political blogging on participation, social learning and the democratic process.

Keywords: Blog, Citizen Media, Election, Democracy

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.89-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.522MB).

Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser

Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, SD, USA

Mary Caton-Rosser has a Ph. D. in Communication (University of Colorado,) Master’s degree in Education (University of Wisconsin,) and Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree (University of Colorado,) specializing in media education and media literacy through social organizing and the use of community media/journalism. Her research interests are interdisciplinary, addressing how the cultural, political and economic issues of globalizing society affect and integrate with diverse communities of learners through and with media. Caton-Rosser’s interest in studying and tracking community culture through community-based media has been integrated into her work as an independent journalist, artist and activist for over 25 years. This community-based work paralleled her career as a corporate media executive working in the photography, film and cable television industries, and consultant for publishers and practitioners of educational curricula development. Working with grants, she has developed community-based, citizen media programs for youth and adults using print, broadcast and new media.

Dee Sleep

Graduate Research Assistant, Chiesman Grant, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Spearfish, NE, USA

Deanna Sleep has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University, Brookings. She is currently a graduate student in journalism at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Sleep has taught classes in journalism, public relations and student newspaper at Black Hills State University, and operates her own business, Chicken Creek Communications.

Caylen Groen-Jones

Student Research Assistant, Chiesman Grant, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, SD, USA

Caylen J. Groen (Jones) is a senior mass communication major at Black Hills State University. Her area of emphasis is website development. In the fall, 2008, Groen is working on a convergence project with the student newspaper, integrating campus broadcast (TV and radio) onto the online version of the newspaper. She will also be working with the implementation of a news blog on the site.

Heather Smith

Student Research Assistant, Chiesman Grant, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, SD, USA

Heather K. Smith is a senior mass communication major at Black Hills State University. Her area of emphasis is public relations. In the fall, 2008, Smith joined the research project on political news blogs, and is becoming well-versed in the use of “old” technologies, such as microfilm.

Alicia McNeary

Black Hills State University, SD, USA

Alicia McNeary is a freshman at Black Hills State University. She is an English major, with a minor in mass communication with a focus in Journalism. She has also been active in the performing arts and activism, having performed in a production of The Laramie Project in 2008. She plans to peruse a career in creative writing. She also plans to work as an activist, particularly for GLBT rights and services for survivors of child, sexual and domestic abuse and animal rights.

LiTing Sun

Black Hills State University, SD, USA

Li-Ting Sun is a junior mass communication major at Black Hills State University. She serves as president for the International Student Organization, as copy editor for the Jacket Journal school newspaper, and as an active member of the Public Relations Student Society of America-BHSU Chapter. Sun came to BHSU in 2006 with a major in English education. She transferred her major from English to mass communication in 2008 with an emphasis in public relations. Sun has completed her first B.A. in English in Taipei, Taiwan. Later, she came to the U.S. and studied in education and received a master degree from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. Sun is expecting to graduate from BHSU in 2012.

Odessa Backen

Black Hills State University, SD, USA

Odessa Backen is a junior art education major at Black Hills State University. She is actively involved in the art club and the Jacket Journal newspaper on campus. Through gaining first-time research experience in working as part of a team on the political blog research project, she hopes to pursue future research in art education issues, and continues to be intrigued by the “sonic boom of technology” current blogging trends demonstrate.

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