Importance of Bloggers?

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting on a controversial presidential appointment at Gallaudet University. The institution revoked the appointment of Jane Fernandes, and that decision is being protested by student and independent bloggers. The bloggers, according to the Chronicle:

By focusing on the exploits of student protesters, the blogs captured the attention of an audience that felt estranged from the mainstream news media

The article is unclear about the debate at Gallaudet, but I get the impression that it has something to do with deafness. I’m not going to look it up right now, because it’s not too important to what I have to say.

Gallaudet officials failed to take the bloggers seriously because, as one person said, trying to determine which blogs were the most important was like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. At first, the university only dialogued with blogs to correct inaccuracies. Then the students became involved, tracking the controversy through the blogs; and suddenly the blogs became a force to be reckoned with.

You hear about this in the news all the time, especially during campaign season. The candidates and their staff members criticize the bloggers, who are referred to like a pack of hungry jackals just waiting for the next slip-up or misstep so they can pounce. Politicians have become wary of the bloggers, but the question I have is whether or not the bloggers are that influential. Do the bloggers wield power in journalism, or is this entire concern overblown?

I don’t know. Trying to find a reliable blog is, as the Gallaudet official said, like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. The best place to start is with the blogs that already get a lot of traffic, but how is that different from going to NYTimes.com and reading their blogs? Where can the novice political blog (or other) reader get started? Technorati? Not likely. It bases most of its results on popularity and hits–along with some points for update frequency. Still, even if you find a blog on the search site that looks promising, it is worth reading if no one else is?

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