The New Statesman has published an article on political blogging which, while I'm all for MSM coverage of the great political communications stuff going on at the moment, kind of misses the point a bit.
Having followed (and studied) political blogging since 2006 it pisses me off that this sort of who has more blgogers than who argument still gains credence.
Political blogging has a UK legacy from at least 2003 – and earlier in the US – so why then, in 2009, are we getting articles that cover old ground or make sweeping judgements with little evidence or insight.
The answer is perhaps simple: that's what journalism (or at least a lot of modern 'churnalism') does. And ironically this sort of lazy shorthand reporting is onen reason blogs and social media prolifereated in the first place.
The article in particular regurgitates the line from a press release (I presume there was a press release as the story is based on report by a compnay that offers a commerical product) that there are more Tory bloggers that Labour and Lib Dem ones because:
The thing is: there's no evidence in the article to suggest that Labour's online growth has slowed. I would argue it's a fairly common belief that the Tories were generally ahead online (for a number of inconclusive, complex reasons) which is why Labour retaliated with LabourList and other digital grassroots initiatives.
What really annoys me though is the presumption that the perceived values of traditional media simply transfer of the networked space with an emphasis on successful examples being celebrity. Former Daily Mirror reporter and Labour's best known liar spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, is described as: "one of Labour’s most prominent bloggers". I would suggest that while Campbell is a prominent person associated with Labour, he isn't one of their most prominent bloggers. That would be Recess Monkey or Tom Watson.
Maybe I'm splitting heirs here, but I think it's justified to make the point: social media isn't about numbers or celebrity. It isn't about which party has the msot MP's blogging. It is about conversation, debate, transparency, authenticity, accountability and social production of knowledge.
These are things traditional media (or even traditional democracy) can't deliver. And this is what makes social media one of the key driving forces for the future of not just our media, but for our democratic existence.
*UPDATED* I've just spotted Stuart Bruce (political blogger since 2003) has posted on the subject too.