User-Generated Content

Study Preview Bloggers have made a potent presence in cybermedia’s landscape. Although uneven in quality, blogs have demonstrated that they can be watchdogs for the public, by allowing consumers to become citizen journalists. Other important new mass communication vehicles are social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit (to name just a few).

Learning Objectives By the end of this module you will be able to:

  1. 4.4.1 Analyze the effects of bloggers on headline news
  2. 4.4.2 Evaluate the impact of social networking on mass communication
  3. 4.4.3 Explain how email affected interpersonal communication
  4. 4.4.4 Assess the social functions of texting

4.4.1 Blogging 1. Objective: Analyze the effects of bloggers on headline news

The ease with which individuals can create a personal media presence has been made possible by a range of web-based products that allow people to easily create their own websites and blog spaces. Because these pages were initially like personal journals or logs, they were called web logs, a term coined in 1997 by “diarist” Jorn Barger,which ultimately morphed into the word blogs in about 1999. Blogger rolled out the first free online blogging service in August of 1999.

Blogs quickly became a powerful and influential mass medium. In fact, in 2004, Merriam Webster dictionary proclaimed “blog” the word of the year. Rather than

using a blog as a personal diary, bloggers were becoming legitimate players in journalism, increasingly breaking stories and influencing content in bigger publications. For instance, blogger Joshua Marshall, for example, reported on his talkingpointsmemo.com in 2002 that the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate, Trent Lott, had made comments in a speech that were racially insensitive. Lott had uttered his comments at the 100th birthday party of Senator Strom Thurmond, once a strong segregationist. Mainstream media missed the implications of Lott’s comments, but not Joshua Marshall. On his blog, Marshall hammered away at Lott day after day. Other bloggers, also outraged at Lott’s comment, joined in. Three days later the story hit NBC. Four days later Lott apologized. Two weeks later, his Senate colleagues voted him out as majority leader. As a blogger who made a difference, Joshua Marshall is hardly alone. Another well-known blogger is Matt Drudge, whose revelations propelled the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky dalliances in the Oval Office into a national scandal.

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