Even though blogs as a new medium don´t appear to be very powerful or visible in the larger public debate, it is an encouraging sign for democracy that the top ten blogs are read by most newseditors of the mainstream press.
If blogs are taken serious by news editors, they´re very likely also read by the people behind the scenes in political organisations. Fact is, the top blogs all got their rankings in different ways and everyone´s got a fair chance to actually be heard. This inspires a lot of blog writing and feed back is mostly very gratifying even though circulation might be limited.
The masses involved in writing surely are having a pseudo sense of democracy. Perhaps the first experience of its kind in world history. Writing can make you experience an extra dimension to your normal existence and if politics is the subject a great sense of direct involvement with power is felt. Perhaps that´s why the euphoria about war reporting from the backrooms and cellars in almost impossible circumstances was seen as so tremendous on the outset. It felt very much like listening to illegal radio stations and the music sounded extra good for the few involved.
Research numbers have brought us back to reality though. The initial figures on blogging tell a much less inspiring story. Ordinary people, aside from writing enthusiastically in their pre-formated online gyros, themselves barely depend on what other people write for their news intake. Pew Research Center of the US reported that in 2003, 4 percent of ordinary Americans refer to blogs for information and opinion. Even the most popular blog on the web – garners only a fraction of the Web traffic that major media outlets attract.
But to say that blogs have no impact on the political debate would be as inaccurate as saying that sources the media quote have no impact on (the tone of) their wider stories. Even though blogging is in no way organised and everybody out there is just screaming their message in -at first- empty empty space, some voices are eventually heard and if what they are saying is noteworthy or revealing important information that otherwise would not be known, you can say a blog is impacting on the wider debate.
From a media research point of view, blogs provide priceless information about the collective response of ordinary people to breaking news and their grouping by subject matter and keywords provides great information about the structures that are beginning to emerge in cyberspace at large, something that had not been achieved and that the established media or the search engine community on its own would never be able to accomplish. Larger and more popular blogs are mainly rising in fame because they show they have an excellent sense of judgement when it comes to news gathering, analysis and insight.