Dear Richard

I should probably be ignoring Richard Waghorne’s latest rant on blogging and normally I would simply respond with a comment in his blog; sadly that luxury is not provided by Mr. Waghorne and so this site shall be my outlet.

When Richard states that blogging is completely inconsequential because it does not demand the audience of a national newspaper he is instantly proving his lack of thought on the issue. Those who blog know that audience is not the reason they do it. Sure, it’s nice to know that ‘X’ amount of people have read what you have to say and it’s even nicer when they come back to you, reference you or respond in some way but having 10,000 readers a day is pointless if no one is engaging the issues with you.

The influence blogging can have on the election is probably limited, I agree but under the right circumstances it has the potential to be far bigger. Blogs adhere to the rules of viral marketing, that is the word of mouth principle. While only 20 people may read a post, they may tell a handful of their friends who then tell a handful of theirs and so on; should any blogger be lucky enough to unearth a serious issue they may quickly find themselves setting the national agenda too, as Iain Dale in the UK has done in recent weeks.

Quality is indeed an issue but the reason that most blog-copy would likely make a newspaper editor feel sick is part of the reason for it’s brilliance, and another sign that Waghorne isn’t paying attention. Blogging does not adhere to formats, house styles or any kind of rules. As a journalist I’m sure you, Richard, know that the use of the word “I” is generally unacceptable but blogging is all about the person and reaction; don’t compare it to a newspaper, compare it to the opinion pages. I’ve made the point before (and am due to again) that blogging is not journalism and it’s as simple as that.
Finally the quote of mine that you feature; naturally you’ve misunderstood me. Firstly I said ‘few’ not ‘all’ parties and secondly I am not asking for political parties to make unpopular decisions, I am instead asking them to do their jobs. As far as I’m concerned the Government is there to do what’s best for its people, not what its people think is right. In the next budget it is expected that Fianna Fail and the PD’s will hand us a windfall; they will throw money at us as they have before and buy our affection and all of this despite warnings from those who know not to do so.
Most economic analysts accept that the Tiger has peaked but the Government knows that acting now to make the slump less dramatic would prove awfully unpopular in an election year.
On the other side Fine Gael and Labour try to gain political points with its Home Defence Bill; it’s a popular notion and a fair one too that a home owner should not have to answer for protecting their homes. Sadly Fine Gael and Labour pushed a legally flawed piece of legislation in order to do this; they should be providing an alternative and not throwing ideas around to delight the public.
They are both working policy to get votes, not for the good of the people and that is what I mean when I say few political parties don’t have the balls to make the important decisions without public consent first.

As you say; people can either deal with the current state of politics or do something about it. While there is plenty that can be done blogging (and debate) is one such thing, it’s by no means the greatest or the most influencial but it’s all in the name of the public discourse.

4 Comments

  1. Blogs are not viral. A viral object is something that communicates a message and has it’s own delivery mechanism. Talking about a blog is as viral as talking about a newspaper. A meme on a blog might be viral but the blog it is on is not.

    We do not have an equivalent of an Iain Dale here nor do we have a Guido Fawkes. Iain is also far far more than a blogger.Iain leverages all media and is forever increasing his influence. This is how he describes himself

    43, right of centre political commentator, author, publisher, bookseller, radio presenter, TV pundit, blogger, former Conservative candidate, Essex boy, Tunbridge Wells resident, Jack Russell owner, former lobbyist, German speaker, West Ham season ticket holder, Audi lover, golfer, iPod addict.

    He uses his blog to interact with more people, it is one weapon in his arsenal but there is no way whatsoever he’d have as much influence if he just blogged and did not have the connections and experience he had before blogging.

    What do we have here? What blogger has been increasing his or her influence in all media? Who here can debate politics without personally attacking those they disagree with? There is also the very valid fact that the amount of net users per capita is much much less in Ireland too which means a blog has less of a chance of being read than in the UK.

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  2. Administrator 12/07/2006 at 04:09

    Perhaps our definitions of Viral are different; I’d always taken it to mean person-to-person, like a virus (but not as negative); so that an idea, a post or a picture is passed from person to person based on the content worth rather than the money pumped into it which makes people believe they need it.

    I agree there is no Iain Dale in Ireland but I think there are plenty of people who can debate politics without personally attacking people… perhaps over time we’ll see a handful of bloggers rise to greater influence, and perhaps not.
    As I’ve already said blogs are unlikely to have a huge influence on the next election, but they might have a small one and they have the potential (under the right but rare circumstances) to have a larger one.

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  3. [...] Edit: More commentary from: The InFactahnistas John Timmons, Richard Waghorne , Adam Maguire, Adam Maguire again, Tom Raftery, Suzy Byrne and the lovely Auds. Technorati Tags: blogs campaigns ireland irish irishblogs politics [...]

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