Thursday, April 01, 2004

Is the Blogosphere Right-Wing?
Wayne Wides argues that the blogosphere is predominantly right wing. Until recently I would have agreed with him, but I'm no longer quite so sure.

I think there are a couple of points that need to be borne in mind. Firstly, until recently the blogosphere was a mostly American phenomenon. This is important because it seems to be the case that marginal media forms (of which blogging is an example) in America are usually seized on by the right wing rather than the left. Think of the way that conservative talk shows dominate the US radio waves. But this is certainly not the case in Britain. As usual, Britain is a few months behind America but as blogging takes off here too it seems not to be developing any perceptible bias. Indeed, I would venture to suggest that the biggest blogs in the UK are somewhat left of centre. Blogging in the rest of the world is still so small that it is difficult to say, with any certainty, what form it is taking on. Nevertheless, I'm prepared to bet that it will not be quite so right of centre as its American relation.

My second point also relates to the importance of the US as the first major blogging country. I would argue that the fact that blogging 'broke' when it did has determined to a large degree the form that it has taken on. Consider that many of the biggest blogs got going in the aftermath of 9/11 and in the run up to the US-led invasion of Iraq. Consider too the very high levels of US jingoism at the time ('if you're not for us you're against us'). I would argue that under these circumstances it is not surprising that most of the blogs that established themselves were right wing rather than left. It's hard to imagine how left wing bloggers in the US would have been able to establish as big a reputation as those of the right given the prevailing political mood. This is just speculation, and I may be wrong but I'm prepared to bet that if a guy like Andrew Sullivan started blogging now, he'd find his potential audience a little less receptive compared to two years ago.

But perhaps the real news here is that blogging is still largely a reflection of America. And since the US is, for good or bad, far further to the right on most issues compared to the rest of the West, the blogosphere appears to us to have a right wing hue to it.


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