In all the Martini Republic/ Juan Cole kerfluffle, one valid point was raised that didn't get addressed and should have.
That was the issue of the ease with which blogs can be - with varying degrees of overtness - made into house organs for political actors.
Jeff Jarvis and I had a discussion on these risks in one of our earliest email correspondences. Bloggers who are working for free could reasonably be assumed to work cheaply for a cause they were not disposed to oppose, and the 'Astroturf' nature of the campaign would most likely be hard to track.
We've seen it, on the left as Duncan Black (Atrios) and Oliver Willis went to work for Media Matters and on the right as the Thune campaign retained Jon Lauck of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek of the South Dakota Politics blog.
So, as an exercise in my own curiosity, I thought I'd start to look up other examples.
Then I realized that it was way too much work to do well, and thought I'd toss it open as a collective research project. Let's sit down and look at the professional/political connections of a sample of the political blogosphere and see if this is really an issue - yet.
In terms of methodology, it was simple. I went to the NZ Bear Ecosystem and picked the top 30 blogs (magic number because it includes us). Then I went to Blogstreet and picked the Top 30 and Most Influential 30. I did this about 11:00 am on the 25th, in case that matters to anyone.
So we have three overlapping lists of 30 blogs each. As attributes, I thought we'd have three:
Political Tilt - it's not a fine-grained view, just a 'thumb in the air' kind of thing;
Blogger's Profession - what do the authors do for a living;
Political / Advocacy Associations - what are the ties between political parties or advocacy organizations and the bloggers?
I knocked off the obvious ones, but check my work and add your own notes in comments..
In the interest of disclosure, let's start with me.
I have a small management consulting business focused on managing broken projects (and other stuff as business comes in the door). My own political ties are overwhelmingly Democratic, but I have donated to and on occasion, voted for Republican candidates.
I have given advice to several campaigns about Internet presence, and am friends with three elected officials (all Democrats) and someone who runs a left-leaning campaign consultancy. I've never made a dime from politics nor from any kind of advocacy except some local and regional land-use advocacy.Here's the list of blogs (rev 2):
|Top 30 Ecosystem Blogs||Leans||Profession||Political / Advocacy Associations|
|2.Daily Kos||Left||Political Consultant||Democratic Campaign Consultant|
|3.Boing Boing||Not Political|
|4.Talking Points Memo||Left||Journalist|
|6.Little Green Footballs||Right|
|8.Ambient Irony||Not Political|
|9.The Washington Monthly||Left||Journalists|
|10.The Volokh Conspiracy||Right||Academics|
|14.2004 Weblog Awards||Not Political|
|21.Blogs For Bush||Right||Campaign Blog||Official GOP Site|
|22.The New Republic Online||Moderate||Journalists|
|27.The Moderate Voice||Moderate||Journalist|
|29.Right Wing News||Right|
|30.Winds of Change||Moderate|
|Top 30 Blogstreet Blogs||Leans||Profession||Political / Advocacy Associations|
|4.Boing Boing||Not Political|
|5.Talking Points Memo||Left||Journalist|
|12.Daily Kos||Left||Political Consultant||Democratic Campaign Consultant|
|13.This Modern World|
|17.LILEKS (James) The Bleat||Right||Journalist|
|18.(In)formação e (In)utilidade|
|20.Arts & Letters Daily|
|21.Davenetics* Pop + Media + Web|
|22.Tudo Para Blogs|
|23.The Volokh Conspiracy||Right||Academics|
|24.Where is Raed ?|
|26.Tudo para Blogs Mudou!|
|30.TypePad: Hosted Weblog Service|
|Top 30 Influential Blogstreet Blogs||Leans||Profession||Political / Advocacy Associations|
|2.Talking Points Memo||Left||Journalist|
|5.Daily Kos||Left||Political Consultant||Democratic Campaign Consultant|
|6.The Volokh Conspiracy||Right||Academics|
|8.This Modern World|
|14.Boing Boing||Not Political|
|15.The Washington Monthly||Left||Journalists|
|16.Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal||Left||Academic|
|18.Oliver Willis||Left||Researcher||Media Matters|
|19.The Rittenhouse Review|
|20.LILEKS (James) The Bleat||Right||Journalist|
|25.Winds of Change.NET||Moderate|