The Paid Blogosphere
But when they get paid, or paid off , its another story.
Joe Trippi did a lot of work behind the scenes for a lot of candidates. A while back he discovered that the stock trading board, Raging Bull, was a great place for shareholders to congregate - and that they stuck with their stock even when it was going down. He wanted to bring this to the game of politics.
You will hear alot about , large numbers of small donors. In political campaigns, its the new badge of honor.
And Trippi was partly responsible. But I think he made a new move this season, as a campaign manager for the Edwards campaign. After all, paid political consultants will act to keep lobbyism in place; lobbyist money feeds the off-season. Trippi is a numbers guy. And a big baseball fan. And he has to pay the bills on that big farm he runs..
I think Trippi created the paid-off blogosphere. This is a beast that operates by conference call / oft to result in a group consensus to try to send people out into the net to do things like chain-recommend diaries at blogs, or modify the results of polls, or otherwise shill for a certain candidate for no other reason than to be either paid off, or to be around someone who is getting paid off. They are "rapid response" people who attempt to artificially inject into the discourse, a type of junk priority schedule that lowers the signal to noise ratio of a given blog.
Blogs are supported by good readers, this is the big secret to growing a good blog. And especially in the coming wireless epoch, we really won't be writing to every reader, but rather, engaging in a dialogue that will result in a positive discourse for simply - a few of them. The top ranked guild in World of Warcraft, for instance, is 8 members. But that guild is looked up to and monitored by nearly every player in the game. So, too, with blogs. They are not mainstream media and never will be. But they are - to echo a former myDD author - a vibrant educational environment and a resource for everyone.
So, what happens when it becomes obvious that authors and administrators of a blog are on the take?
I have found that those authors in whom their readership can ascertain a definite bias tend to begin to attract fake crowds of fake end users. And fake readers. And really, it is the quality of the reader that keeps a blog alive. Just knowing there is a thoughtful, decent person out there reading your work, is a big reason why we are here.
The author who succeeds in creating a decent blog, paid or not, is really writing his or her blog as a labor of love. And people can pick up on things like this. Jerome Armstrong, for example, wrote an excellent blog - that for a few years was a great place to go - a place called myDD. He even authored a book "Crashing the Gates" with another author named Kos. He now supports a candidate that voted for the war in Iraq, and with such zeal its easy to question his progressive credentials as his readership now falls off.
What you want to watch for, to avoid sites that try to quash debate - are sites that support dialogue. Posts or comments that don't necessarily support the "message unity" or "rapid response" that are being edited away for pay - are the canary in the coal mine. Watch carefully the dialogue and make sure people are aware that sometimes the blog administrator can criticize someone, then take away their ability to respond.
And in some ways, you can also tell whats going on by the simple quality of the work. Most paid bloggers aren't really writing very well.. its hard to justify low pay correlated to high output... the sudden slow realization usually dawns on them that they might have something better to do.
The paid blogosphere, of necessity, exploits or allows to be exploited the openness of the environment to drive its own readers away, and the administrative functions of the blog to effectively silence debate instead of promote it.
Its been my experience that this is kind of a phase of corruption that some blogs will travel through - and it usually presages a kind of slow fade of the character of a blog, and the eventual move on for a reader who would otherwise frequent the blog.
In the end, it pays to just sort of cruise around and find good bloggers that can write meaningful content. I'm reviewing my blogroll and might remove myDD from the list; last week I found out that the Clintons were taking republican money - then they went and tried to campaign with republicans in Indiana, and lost. A while back I wrote a piece critical of the Clintons, and their "tax holiday".
The reprisal was immediate. Jerome removed me from the front page and then, put up a thread that covered a Fox News discussion. As if..? Since when is Fox news worth that kind of blogosphere coverage.
Just recently I suggested in a comment that Jerome Armstrong may have been receiving compensation for allowing his blog to be controlled, effectively, by a campaign. It was eerie at how Jerome posted that "he doesn't care who wins" almost immediately after a big defeat was taken by the Clinton campaign and then almost immediately following the Clinton's promise to infuse additional cash back into the campaign, he perks right back up again. I questioned him about this since he used his administrative powers to remove my ability to post there.
Crickets. He's convinced.. what? That discussing whether or not a blog is being affected by paid shills - isn't worth discussing? And so much so that one would have to delete the account of anyone that mentions it..?
One thing is certain. If a story was to break about how a blogger would allow a discussion that is supposedly an open forum for the discussion of issues is something that the MSM would love to use to try to beat down the blogosphere. I wouldn't be surprised if they manufactured a situation just to break the story.
We go where the stories are neat to read. And the discussion open, friendly - and rooted in a sense of objective, factual and clear-headed analysis. And you also go where the facts are. The net allows you to find out the truth behind any supposition. Which is why wild news is around - people can check it out for themselves.
The FEC also keeps open records, and most special purpose entity transactions can be tracked if you know how. The net makes it easy.
There was a site that was built by the Aryan Nation, a neo-nazi hate group - named "martinlutherkingjr.com" or something like that. I used to use that site to teach my children about the net. It was a site that looked and felt like an information resource, but it wasn't.
Any real payoff scheme for any blog out there will be just as easy to discover. And like the martinluther king site, ... which now redirects to the king center, in Atlanta... he who laughs last.. laughs loudest.