Friday, October 27, 2006

Austin bloggers speak at Texas State University

Wednesday I played host to three well-known Austin political bloggers, Pink Dome, In the Pink Texas and Burnt Orange Report. They came to Texas State University, as part of the School of Journalism & Mass Communication's annual Mass Comm Week, to discuss blogging, citizen journalism and the impact blogs have on Texas politics. For a summary of the discussion, read the article in the student newspaper, The University Star. I think we had a good turn out, given that it was raining and students tend not to even go to class in the rain.

One of the things that struck me was the assertion that blog did not influence opinion, but did influence opinion leaders. That idea intrigued me. From my thesis research, I would agree that bloggers are not opinion leaders, but I didn't look beyond the general public. It would be interesting to take it a step further and see if blogs did influence, or at least keep certain issues top of mind for, opinion leaders. Of course, like Lazarsfeld found in the Decatur study, pinpointing who opinion leaders are is a difficult task.

The guest bloggers also said that politicians should be concerned about them, not because they are bloggers but because they are engaged and active voters. It was interesting to hear how politicians try to act like these blogs aren't important, yet on the other hand are active readers.

This was the second year we had bloggers as part of our Mass Comm Week. Last year Jon Lebkowsky and a group of marketing/PR folks, discussed the influence of blogging on corporate reputation management. My hope is that each year we have guest speakers who can add to the discussion of the role of new media in mass media.

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