Saturday, January 31, 2004

Weblogs as new public spheres?

I am reading a summary of a panel that took place in the recent World Economic forum at Davos, under the title "Will Mainstream Media Co-opt Blogs and the Internet?" where five experts presented their thoughts on the matter.

What strikes me is how the opinions towards blogs tend to side on the positve or negative approach to blogs depending on the person talking. Journalists tend to be negative towards blogs and find different reasons to distrust them. Bloggers, artists and business people tend to see them as something very positive.

In this case Orville H. Schell, Dean of the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, USA dislikes the fact that blogging reinforces the trend towards media fragmentation. "It's a fracturing of the town square," Schell said. "While more information is available, there is less space for a common discourse."

It is quite clear that Professor Schell is pointing towards something important and relevant, but he probably forgets that several communities of bloggers could be included in what Seyla Benhabib describes as "diverse topographical locations that become public spaces, new sites of power, of common action coordinated through speech and persuasion".

They not be part of the traditional Town Hall politics but they are probably increasing the diversity of new public spheres.

And they are challenging not only the conventions of traditional journalism, but also the credibility of Main Stream Media news.


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