Ipsos Reid released a poll today describing the influence of blogs on the news, the media and upon public opinion.
In short, 58% of online Canadians believe that blogs influence public opinion, 45% believe that blogs influence the MSM and 41% believe that blogs influence politics and public policy.
First of all, there is no doubt that blogs influence public opinion, however, how they influence opinion is not so clear. I believe that blogs have the potential to inform Canadians of different perspectives and information, however, most of blogging influence may manifest itself in the polarization of blog readers. Of course, the same can be said of the influence of columnists on newspaper readers. I’d like to think and am fairly confident that well-written blogs have the same effect on popular opinion as well-written newspaper columnists. The latter has the benefit of authority of course, but blogs have the advantage of world-wide propagation when merited. Most bloggers are not compensated financially for their opinions and this therefore makes them appear more credible.
As for the effect of blogs on the mainstream media, one does not have to look farther than Dan Rather in the United States and the deconstruction of a false story propped up by underlying bias. This is an example of the contrary influence of blogging on the MSM. Indeed, one of the adopted roles of the blogosphere has been to keep the MSM accountable. As for examples of blogging working in concert with the MSM to break and sustain stories, the number of examples is numerous. In fact, fellow Blogging Tories such as Angry in the Great White North, and Blue Maple Leaf have had their analyses recaptured within the mainstream media (examples here and here). Personally, I’ve been interviewed by CTV, the Globe and Mail and have had interview requests from CH Television and CBC Radio. Perhaps the greatest example of blogs on the MSM was the breaking of the publication ban on the Jean Brault Gomery testimony by Blogging Tories and Captain’s Quarters. (Captain Ed broke the story with our help and we redirected Canadians to that “American blog”). Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail called me during the height of the story to learn about the coordinated Blogging Tories effort.
Do blogs have an influence on politics and public policy? Yes, of course they do and I can cite examples! I’ve already mentioned the Jean Brault publication ban, when once lifted, brought the Liberals down to their lowest public opinion standing in 20 years. Another example of the influence of blogs on politics was the emphasis on“Clause K” of Judge Gomery’s mandate, revealing that it left the Justice with no teeth. MPs Monte Solberg, Andrew Scheer, and Steven Fletcher are bloggers themselves and I’m told that while Stephen Harper doesn’t spend much time online, Mrs. Harper is a fan of blogs.
Blogging in Canada, specifically Conservative blogging in Canada, represents a huge potential that is being realized day-by-day. Media, public opinion, and politics all exist within one continuous cycle and the media component is usually dominated by Liberal bias. Bloggers represent those (for the most part) without influence in the MSM. The role of the blogosphere is to inject truth where it is lacking, ideas when it is stagnant, and accountability as it is always needed.