In an interview with the New York Times, President Barack Obama said that his administration doesn’t read blogs, because they aren’t a reliable source of information. This is an odd and somewhat ungrateful thing for a man whose movement took him to the presidency in part, based on blogs to say.
Obama used the example of the economy to demonstrate why he thinks blogs are unreliable, “Part of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time looking at blogs is because if you haven’t looked at it very carefully, then you may be under the impression that somehow there’s a clean answer one way or another — well, you just nationalize all the banks, or you just leave them alone and they’ll be fine.”
Sadly, Obama is only echoing the conventional wisdom of many politicians, which is to lump all blogs together as unaccountable forums of misinformation. This is an unfair assumption because there are literally hundreds of great blogs out there who try to provide information and unique to their readers. Unfortunately, these outstanding bloggers are outnumbered 5-10 to 1 by blogs that exist for the writer to spout off their opinions in an unaccountable manner.
Candidates all want blogs because they help get the message to voters in a controlled way. Specifically, blogs target a younger tech savvy demographic that all candidates dream of reaching and energizing, the problem is that many elected officials, including Obama, are behind the curve. They don’t see the power of the Internet as a source for information. The statistics vary, but about 10% of all Americans get their news from the Internet. I would venture a guess that many of these people supported and donated to Obama. Blogs helped form the early backbone for his Internet fund raising.
Obama does have a valid point when it comes to reading blogs carefully. My personal background comes from political science, research, and editing. I make an effort, which is not always successful, to try and look for more information. Many writers, for various reasons, can’t or don’t make the effort to provide good information.
Bloggers have it tough, because the battle for readership is very competitive, and opinions often equal hits, but the president needs to understand that not all blogs and bloggers are created equally. Blogs are the number one reason why newspapers are dying, and politicians would be wise to understand and respect this form of media.