Huge influence? No. A small bit? Yes.
Where did blogs have most influence though? The media.
Blogging influenced those covering the election and I think that has impact but it might not have been as direct. Amazing to see the amount of content attributed and unattributed in the media running up to this election. I think that’s where the blogging breakthough was in this election. It was nice reading my opinion in a Sunday paper, even if someone else signed their name to it. It was nice to read the opinions of so many in the blogging world put into the mainstream. It certainly had more impact than letters to the editor. While a YouTube video taking the piss out of Mary Harney might only get 5000 views, it also got mentioned on RTE TV news, and as a result a few 100k people saw some of the video. While 1000 people might have read my blog post on something, 100k might have read my quote taking a dig at Enda Kenny and Fine Gael in the Irish Independent. (Kudos to the Indo though in this aspect as their guy covering political blogs always attributed.)
While the photoshopped photos and the satirical videos made up most of the media coverage, some of the insightful commentary also made it in there as well as some news that was at first overlooked by the media. Those that report are now reading blogs. We are now another associated press in a way but more than that, the media are coming into our insular, incestuous world and influencing us too and pushing our boundaries by joining in and leaving comments and starting their own blogs.
I think blogs can be quite complimentary to existing media and existing media joining the blogging world can also be of immense benefit. I think Kevin Rafter, Harry Magee and Mark Hennessy are making the political blogging community better and forcing the existing blogging superstars to improve their game. (BTW, I’m still in shock at the arrogance of a blogger telling Mark how to write his blog the way “we” write blogs.) When Tiger Woods became a pro he forced the golfing world to improve its game even more. As was pointed out recently, Tiger is playing the best golf of his career right now but most don’t realise it because everyone else has improved so much too. Kevin, Harry and Mark are the Tigers of political blogs. It’s not just political blogging that’s being improved but blogging in general when those trained in communicating with large audiences show us how they do things. Jim, Shane, John, Kathy and many more are good for us. [After re-reading that whole section, it sounds awfully lickarse ]
So here’s hoping more political commentators blog and join the party and as a result listen to what we are saying and take it on board. As they do that, I’m sure it’ll also expand the reading lists of other political hacks and handlers though I must say, some politicians are already reading our blogs on a daily basis. Lads and ladies, you should leave comments too.
On a slight tangent, the blogging politicians didn’t fare too well in this election. Dominic Hannigan and the wonderfully genuine Eric Byrne just missed out and probably have some of the best politician blogs about. Thank God Ciaran Cuffe got back in. Congrats to Thomas Byrne too who did very well. Minister Dempsey of course romped home and it’d be great that the first Irish Minister to start a blog, keeps it going. This will lead me on to my next blog post on how we can encourage politicians to keep blogging and YouTubing, this includes sitting TDs and the unsuccessful candidates too. It might need communicating that puppies are not just for Christmas and blogs are not just for upcoming elections.