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Political Blogs A Presidential Election Force

  |  May 16, 2005   |  Comments

Political bloggers emerged as a 'Fifth Estate' during the 2004 presidential elections.

Blogs covering the political elections made an impact on the election landscape in 2004, and emerged as one of mainstream media's guides to the Internet. A study released by Pew Internet & American Life Project and BuzzMetrics, "Buzz, Blogs and Beyond: The Internet and National Discourse in the Fall of 2004," compared political blog activity, influence and buzz-generation to political coverage in other media. The survey defines "buzz" as "a lot of simultaneous talk."

Pew and BuzzMetrics created a four-channel framework comparing topics appearing on blogs, mainstream media, campaign representatives and online citizen chat forums.

Blogs were observed across political channels. The study considered 16 conservative and liberal blogs, respectively, and eight general ones. Conservative bloggers made 6,716 unique posts under the data set; liberal pundits wrote 7,151 entries; and neutral blogs had 4,251 unique posts between September 27 and October 31, 2004.

Poliltical Blog Posts, September 27-October 31, 2004
Political Slant Number of Unique Posts
Conservative 6,716
Liberal 7,151
Neutral 4,251
Source: BuzzMetrics and Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005

Citizen chatter on politically-focused message boards and forums were divided, as were blogs, into liberal, conservative and general by the researchers. Conservative posters accrued 984,549 messages, while the liberal side posted 947,503 messages. General political venues achieved only 98,963 postings.

Citizen Chatter on Politically Focused Message Boards and Forums, September 27-October 31, 2004
Political Slant Number of Unique Posts
Conservative 984,549
Liberal 947,503
Neutral 98,963
Source: BuzzMetrics and Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005

Campaign releases included official blogs from both Bush and Kerry's side, as well as official newsroom releases from the Bush and RNC newsrooms, and the Kerry and DNC newsrooms. The Republican side generated 955 messages between blogs and press materials, while Kerry's campaign issued 835 messages. Media coverage across 16 major media Web sites was also monitored.

The study raises the question whether blogs have become society's "Fifth Estate." Political activity on blogs may contribute to this assumption. Another Pew report, "The State of Blogging", highlights increased blog readership.

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Enid Burns

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