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    Success of ‘going negative’ changes campaign strategies
    Are Blogs an Echo Chamber? Do Political Bloggers Only Read Blogs They Agree With?

    [UPDATED]Frank Athens of the Washington Post makes an accusation that one hears often cast against blogging:

    “[The most] troubling trait of the Internet [is that] Rather than opening minds, it can close them, thanks to echo-chamber Web sites and blogs. We like to read Web sites and blogs that we agree with and that reinforce our opinions. Aside from the few of you who practice “know your enemy” browsing, how many of you liberals read http://www.nationalreview.com/? How many of you conservatives frequent http://www.thenation.com/?

    His implication is that blog consumption is ideologically self-referential: liberals read Daily Kos; conservatives read powerlineblog and so on. And never the twain do meet. (See comment by Jeff Jarvis).

    Is this true?

    First, Athens’ unstated premise is that “neutral platforms” like, say the Washington Post, are superior content providers because they offer an internal marketplace of different, competing ideas, each given equal weight. Well, I’m not sure how many people, left or right, truly believe that the Washington Post, or any television network, delivers, impartial, fair, balanced or objective coverage of the issues of the day. And, as posted here, and commented on by others, partisanship, not objectivity was the norm in the era in which our Founders first safeguarded a free and open press.

    Second, it is true that a good deal of research on human cognition supports the premise that we seek out “feedback that fits”: our perception, retention, and opinion-evaluations are selective and self-serving.

    But as to the content selection behavior of bloggers, the answer is complicated, at least in my experience. For the last three years, I have used the thousands of undergraduates in my “Intro to Mass Media” classes as survey respondents and test subjects for studies of their media use patterns, especially the interplay between their readership and viewership of different media such as, for example, the Internet versus television or of types of publications presented in different media, such as reading newspapers in print versus online.

    Here are two major lessons I draw from my research as it pertains to blogging, partisanship and the mainstream media.


    Several years ago, I noted an interesting phenomenon that runs contrary to much popular wisdom of the “decline in readership” of newspapers. I would assign students to read political blogs. As you know, a good deal of blog content is commentary on existing news stories; almost always it is the case that even when that commentary is extremely negative, the blogger provides a hyperlink to the original story of the online version of the paper or magazine. Yet, when I would query my students about their readership of newspapers and magazines online, they would claim that they were not consuming them at all or were doing so at the low rates with which we are all familiar. In short, I was able to confirm that, for example, Student A had in fact read, over the past week, several dozen articles from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and Newsweek via the blog portal, in her or his mind did not classify that as actually reading a newspaper because, to use the language of Pew Internet studies, their encounters with online periodicals were “inadvertent”–that is, they did not start out by seeking those stories and sources as places to go for information.


    It is true, as I had said, that most political bloggers I know take politics more seriously than do most politicians, political reporters, and pundits and political professionals I know: they care. When I sat on the Board of the American Association of Political Consultants a few years ago, I saw that many political workers, from media consultants to congressional staff, care about issues and ideologies, but most do not adhere to them fanatically. For example, Republican and Democratic political consultants, staffers and politicians will have friends across the fence or the chamber. Many view politics as a game or a business. But no rightblogger I know is pals with a leftblogger. I’m sure there are some ideologically driven political bloggers out there who vilify each other and then grab a brew together at the local pub, but I have never talked to them. For one thing, of course, cybercommunities do not tend to have cross-community mixers. There are plenty of incentives and opportunities for a Republican Congressional staffer and a Democratic party worker to have lunch in Washington, to play tennis, or even to marry: a rightblogger in Des Moines, Iowa and a leftblogger in Manchester, New Hampshire are confined largely to sniping at each other, sometimes viciously, online. That is not to say that dialogue does not exist. The political bloglands offer a marketplace of ideas, but we should keep in mind that the vendors in the stalls don’t shake hands and go have drinks after a day of heated competition.

    But, again, in reports from my students, they are, in fact, reading enemy blogs in the following ways:

    a. Many students report that they do want to hear what “the other side” on an issue has to say, and go to opposing blogs to hear it.

    b. Students who have their own political blogs report that they regularly seek out “what the enemy” blogs have to say on controversial issues of the moment.

    c. When a leftbloggers attacks a rightblog post, my students, who had started out reading the initial post, go and read its opposing viewpoint.

    d. When using google blogsearch for blog views on a topic, my students would find “hits” on many blogs, and go read them regardless of ideology–which they might not know anyway at first from the title for the blog itself.

    e. As in newspaper reading, my students tended to under report viewing of opposition blogs–which they admitted in conversation rather than in surveys.

    I make no claim that a high level meeting of minds is occurring, but blogging is still evolving and so is its audience. We don’t know how blogging will be used for news and opinion interaction a few years from now: a true market place of ideas, or as continual confirmation of one’s own prejudices. But as of now, it is simplistic to say that bloggers only read that which with they agree.

    See also a good post related to this topic by Rebecca Blood.

    Originally posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at PolicybyBlog.  

    Reader Comments (41)

    The idea of a one-sided blog however plausible is not effective. The original concept of a blog or new center was to present factual information verbatim. As ideas and opinions eased their way into this presentation, the facts became misconstrued.

    Strong opinions want good company. If a democratically, outspoken, political blogger wants to strengthen his argument, he will look for followers with similar attributes. This is not to say he is unaware of the opposing viewpoints. A good debater is aware of all party affiliations and viewpoints; thus knowing the competitor’s strengths and weakness.

    Politicians hold a different degree in undermining the voice of their opponent. “It is nothing personal, just business.” This outlook toward debating while pitching harsh comments back and forth is what allows for face-to-face interaction afterward; which, in my opinion, is more reputable, but can allude to sugar-coating critical information.

    Political Bloggers are just that, bloggers. There is no forced face-to-face interaction, so why not speak what is on their minds; therefore a lack of poise and professionalism is obligatory; Thus, alluding to a speech free-for-all, displaying honest and often crude representations. Blogging, however crude, allows for blatant honesty. Becoming closed-mined is not in the hands of the blogger, that is a state in which one allows.

    A reputable, accurate blogger will give a hyperlink to other opposing views to enable to public to gain a general knowledge about the subject. Those who say people read blogs they only agree with could very well be accurate, but those people become closed-mined by choice, by not reading and conducting proper research; thus resulting in a lack of understanding all together.

    January 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterQueenBee20
    First, I would have to say that I agree with Frank Athens’ accusation. Everyone likes for their point of view to be correct and verified. By reading other people’s blogs who have the same view point, it only validates our opinion of the topic. From other people’s blogs, bloggers can learn new information and use the new information to provide evidence of their own opinions.
    At the same time, the same bloggers would read blogs sharing their opinions also read blogs of differing opinions. The thing that makes having political viewpoints so rewarding is being able to prove someone with different views wrong. In order to find this satisfaction, bloggers must use their knowledge and disprove the views of other bloggers. Therefore, for example, a leftblogger would have to read a rightblogger’s blog to present their opinions and views to prove the rightblogger wrong.
    I also agree that “blogs can be portals to mianstream media.” It is more interesting to read new stories posted on blogs because you can also read the posts of other bloggers. Newspapers are very one-dimensional. When a reader reads a story in the newspaper, they are left with just the story. On the other hand, reading a story on the blogs gives the story more dimensions. The reader is made to think and decide which blogger’s opinions they gravitate towards.
    January 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNykole
    Frank Athens makes a disturbing and seemingly profound statement with his idea that the internet is giving rise to a world of ill informed political commentators. Further examination finds faults in this argument. If one considers neutral platforms in the world of periodicals to be the most objective, it must be assumed that as internet blogging evolves so too will the reputations of certain blogs. Just as the Washington Post is to newspapers, blogs with a fervent effort to provide verifiable information will receive the highest regard from readers; a source that provides the opposite point of view in an attempt to strengthen an argument gains the confidence of the reader. This, in turn, will spawn into a cycle seemingly similar to today’s journalistic atmosphere. Anyone quoting from less legitimate blogs will have a less believable argument, just as would someone today quoting, for example, the National Enquirer. Therefore, while there very well may be a large population who seek only to confirm their own opinions, without verification and cross examination of a source reputability will be denied, whatever the medium.
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBiggybiggy97
    Commenting in a blog where one’s view on a particular issue is supported by that of others, all boils down to human nature. For the most part, we voice our opinions in situations where we will be supported by those around us. Though if in a heated debate, the tables are turned. Leftbloggers will comment on a left blog and vice versa. A leftblogger usually will not comment in rightblogger territory. However, as I mentioned before, every situation is different.
    Though we may not comment on opposing blogs, we almost always “get the scoop,” obviously, this too is human nature. Whether we admit it or not, most of us practice “know your enemy” browsing. In fact, many involved in politics use this practice frequently. It not only informs them of their opposition’s positions, but also allows them to formulate arguments to the contrary.
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterparlavoo22
    Frank Athens makes interesting accusations of bloggers concerning whether or not they only read blogs with which they agree. Politicians and others must meet face to face, disregarding their usual fierce partisan nature in exchange for civility, whereas bloggers have no physical interaction or conversation with each other. This gives the blogger the opportunity to express his true views and feelings on the matter without the possibility of being confronted on the issue by another party on the political spectrum. For this reason, I believe that political bloggers do in fact visit blogs that revolve around stances that they do not agree with. They can access these posts without having debate or confrontation from another person. They can find vital information on the issue without giving up pride on their stance.
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBig Cat
    political bloggers would probably read blogs that they agree with along with the ones that they dont agree with. reasons for this being, if they read both sides of the issue then they would be more knowlegeable about the subject. in example if someone were to ask them a question concerning the negative aspect of somthing they would be able to give detailed information and continue to express why they believe that the argument is incorrect.
    commenting on another persons blog opinion may stir up trouble between the members of both issues. therefore it would make sense for political bloggers to keep tabs on what their opponents are talking about while keeping themselves completely seprate
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercarzepp
    After examining Frank Athens’s accusation that the internet supports ill-informed discussions and blogging I came to disagree with Mr. Athens’s position. The Internet provides an open forum where bloggers can express their blatantly honest opinions without ever having to meet their opposers face to face. I believe this advantage would encourage bloggers to examine the “the other side’s” argument to better defend their own position.
    Uninformed blogging does not help to defend on side of the position; it merely reinforces the opinions of those that already agree with your position. If a person feels strongly about one side of an argument and wishes to convert others to that side, studying the “enemy” will help to improve your argument against the other.
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpawpaw
    I have to disagree with this statement. Although I’m sure there are some bloggers out there who only look at what appeals to their own egos and ideals, some are on the internet to get the truth across, and that means actually looking at not only information that appeals maybe to their own opinions, but also looking at opposing opinions in order to get all of the facts across so that we as readers can make our own decisions (though I’m sure most bloggers hope our decision is the same as theirs, so that they can feel more right than other bloggers).
    Just because this is the internet, people do not change their behaviors, sure, some are a bit more bold than their usual persona in the “real world” but still humanity reigns supreme, and human actions are the same whether on the net or not. We all want to be right, but there is some inkling of emotion inside of us to really know the truth not only what we know as truth, but the real truth.
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTheWhiteKnight06
    Before reading the statements above by Frank Athens, I had never heard of blogging. From his accusations on it, I would have to say that I disagree with his personal view on it. A blog is simply someone’s opinion on a topic and it allows them to express it among others whom feel the same way. People reading these blogs to get facts about certain topics are using irrelevant information because a person’s opinion is not always the truth. Unless the information comes from a credited site, then there is no real assurance that the information is correct.
    January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterXifg119
    The use of blogging has become vital for those who wish to have their opinion supported by others who share the same ideals, principals, and beliefs. While blogging may have its weak points, left or right bloggers reading material posted by left or right bloggers, blogging gives everyone the power of anonymity.
    A blogger can post whatever comment they wish, either positive or negative, and still keep their identity safe. This is useful when, say for instance, a left wing blogger is upset by an act committed by the Republican party, he or she can go to a right wing blog and post anything they want. Although this maybe ethically wrong, its effectiveness is represented by the retaliation of the opposing party. In some cases, this is the only way for bloggers to see what is happening on the other side of the fence. This leads to the gathering of more views similar to that of their own but also views of the opposition. This is done in order to compare and locate flaws and contradictions.
    Sometimes there are mutual agreements between the two, but it is rare. What either side fails to see is that no person is one thing. Everybody is many things. For example, one maybe conservative about heroine, cocaine, and XTC but liberal about marijuana.
    Another misconception, thanks to blogging, news, radio, and all other forms of media, is that most liberals hate the Iraqi War and that they feel sorry for the people of Iraq. It is not like that at all. Just because one is not for the war does not mean that they are for the other side. It was like that in Vietnam and it is like that now. The opinions of others gets misconstrued in the crossfire of what each side has to say.
    In the end, blogging can be a good thing if used to express ones opinion while at the same time seeing what the other half has to say.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNotLogix
    The question of do political bloggers only read the issues they agree with, is such a broad question. One hundred people could be interviewed and the results could be leaning towards one way. Then if a different one hundred people are asked the same questions the answers could reflect the opposite side of the spectrum. If a political enthusiast would like to know everything about a topic, the reader must read both sides of the story to gather the most information. In gathering the information from both sides of the “street” the reader will have a better understanding of the topic at hand. This in turn will lead to a better judgment on a particular political view. The reader not only has a duty to read the blog but to research the blog’s author to see where this person stands in their political views.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDrock
    I think it is hard to answer the question of whether political bloggers only read websites that support their opinions. It is a broad question, and different for every person. Personally, I’d have to say that I agree with the statement made by Frank Athens. The internet has most certainly made people more close-minded. People enjoy to read websites and blogs that support their own views and reinforce their opinions, and the internet has only made that easier. If you search for any particular topic, you can find thousands of different articles posted by people who have the same feelings towards and issue as you do. It is human nature to be drawn towards reading something you agree with, because it will reinforce your thoughts on the topic and maybe even present you with information you were unaware of.

    As either a conservative or a liberal, you are almost always aware of the views and information that the other party presents. However, I feel that most of the time people don’t read too much of the information and views presented by the other party because of the fear that their viewspoints maybe challenged or that the opposing arguement may make some valid points that deep down you might somewhat agree with.

    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMK86
    For people to believe that political bloggers only read bloggers that support their own opinions is not unbelievable. It is natural for people to want to read things that support their own beliefs. They want people to back their beliefs up against someone on the other side of the argument.
    Even so, most people do end up reading some type of blogs from the other side. People look to read the other side to see what the other side has to say. Some people look at the other side to be able to use what that blogger said against him. They turn it around on the blogger to help to further enhance their own opinion. People should read both sides of an argument to find what others believe because you may read something that you never knew about and decide to change sides on an issue.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertiger227
    It is in political blogger’s nature to want to read what supports their opinion. Most of them are one sided and only want to read ideas or arguments that support their own ideas. People want to feel like they are right so they ignore the other side by nature. People usually do not like to hear the “other side’s argument” because many our overly conceited.

    Even so many bloggers do actually read the other side’s arguments. They do this mainly to use it against them to enhance their own opinions. Others though do this to actually be open to alternative solutions to the issues or our neutral and are looking to decide.

    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterredsox04
    Although people may disagree, I think that it is obvious that political bloggers are only interested in blogs that agree with their personal views. When it comes to politics, people only like to read the things that reinforce their opinions on a specific topic. Blogs should be used to look at other people’s point of view to become more educated and aware of what else is going on. It would be nice if bloggers really did this but they don’t. Now some conservatives may read liberal blogs and vice versa but this would only be done to attack the other one’s opinions and not to try and understand where that individual is coming from.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjoeschmoe21
    In response to “Do Political Bloggers Only Read Blogs that They Agree With?” by Frank Athens, I have to agree with him. Politicians have so much competitiveness in them that they want the winning hand when it comes to any argument. Blogs provide support or disagreement about someone and their opinion(s), and it is only human nature to want all the support on your side. I firmly believe that many politicians only read their supporting blogs because it just gives them more confidence for their side of the argument and those disagreeing with them only can make them question their beliefs. Its common sense- If you want to make yourself look better, you are not going to want to bring out any personal faults which may be represented in these opposing blogs. Would you want to read compliments or negative comments about yourself?
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPnkDancePrincess
    With the advancements in media and communication technology through out the history of our country we have found a way to use them in the realm of politics. Unfortunately no news paper , news station, or web site can be considered one hundred percent factual or trustworthy and this is the same with the user B-logs. It is my personal opinion that people take the things that they see on the internet too literally and take the information at point blank. Not everything that is on the internet is true , especially with the B-logs because anyone anywhere on the globe can post information or comments on the sites , many without requiring the poster to reveal any personal information. I do think that the B-logs present a decent arena for political discussions, people on either right or left can present their ideas and issues openly, also it brings together different people from across the country all with different backgrounds and lifestyles that effect their political opinions; breeching a boundary that news papers and televisions have only scratched in the past. The idea that people only ready the b-logs that express the issues and ideas that are already important to them , I feel is impossible to say. People use the internet for many different things and I highly doubt that b-logging is on the top of the internet priority for most people.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDrgnfly
    I think that most political bloggers will only read blogs that pertain to their side of the issue. I know many people that will not read anything that opposes their idea of the “truth.” I totally agree with Frank Athens on this subject of political blogging. Even if bloggers read an opposing blog, they are probably just doing it so they can identify all the “lies” that are being written. I highly doubt that people will read blogs and then decide which one they support. When you read something that reinstates your beliefs, it makes some feel better about their take on the whole issue.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjg412
    I agree wholeheartedly that political blog readers tend to stick to their own side. Sometimes they don’t realize what the new issues are, and would rather read an opinion of such topics than read an unbiased media of the news (if any media can be considered unbiased.) However, the bloggers themselves are forced to read the opposing viewpoint so they can know what to attack and to blog about the opponent’s weaknesses in their views.

    To go along with that, my left winged friends watch news that is considered biased on their side (i.e. CNN, The Daily Show) and my right winged friends view the news that appeals to them (i.e. FoxNews). Blogs are just a new form of media that are clearly opinionated; newspapers and televised news are opinionated but claim that they are not.

    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertruthiness
    Mr. Athens offers several points upon which any honest political observer can agree. The vast majority of political blogs are not made to inform an eager public of the day’s news. On the contrary, they are used as vehicles to further transport the philosophies of conservatism and liberalism. Almost religiously, day in and day out, concerned citizens visit their favorite blogs to read about the latest dirt dug up on “the other side.” I for one represent these concerned citizens. When the rare instance does arrive that I decide to venture away from familiar blogs and into enemy territory I have one specific purpose. Just like the Patriots watch film on the Colts before a football game in hope of understanding their tendencies and their philosophies better. I too watch film on the other side. I too want to know their game plan to best be able to counter it. I too believe bloggers are not trying to do the public an honest, unbiased service. And I believe Bill Clinton, Jack Abramoff, and a host of others who have fallen victim to the ruthlessness of bloggers would agree.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermcvy12
    I definitely agree with Frank Athens in saying that people are going to look up and read blogs that agree with their own opinions about different topics. I also think people are going to read the opposing sides because they want to know what others think on the topic and how they are arguing it. If a person believes in something and knows they are right then they are most likely going to read opposing views so they know other peoples arguments on it. Also, knowing all the information/arguments, they can be more educated on the topic. They also need to know the thoughts of the opposing side so they know how to argue/voice their opinion to outsiders who have no background of the subject. Therefore, blogging is a good way to express opinions and to let people see both sides of every argument.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteral12
    I strongly disagree with Frank Athens in the sense that the internet is “closing” peoples’ minds. I personally love reading arguments, especially political ones that are arguing for the opposing side. This gives one the opportunity to either make a stronger case or maybe understand the opposing side. Internet blogging gives the reader an opportunity to give their opinion on a matter without having face to face confrontation. Some may see this as someone not having the courage to speak about it, but if you are someone who just wants to get their point in public without being obnoxious about it.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterteb323
    The question of “Do political bloggers only read blogs they agree with?” is a very interesting one which, had I not had previous experience with blogging, I would probably agree with. That being said, I think blogging can appear to be an instrument that promotes a close mind and pulls people further apart but at the base of all of the arguing and witty responses people are getting both sides whether they like it or not. I myself find it very interesting to read blogs of opposing views because I think it is informative to see what the other side’s defense it. Often times I’m surprised or even impressed. Most people, I believe, get into blogging not just to cheer on their side, and not just to blast the other side for being so wrong, but to have an informal, sometimes heated debate about a topic they find important to themselves or to society. Just because the left side or the right side appear to very strongly disagree with the opinions of the opposing sides blogs does not mean that they are not reading them, it may infact mean that they are reading them more closely then ever. To debate so many issues so many times, as it seems many bloggers do, one has to know the other side well, and to know them as well as you need to in order to have an informed, educated, political debate, you need to know their defenses and weaknesses. This is why reading blogs of opposing views benefits the blogger. It makes their blogs even more powerful, and may even open their minds a little.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterallstar21369
    Frank Athens makes a strong argument about people only read their side of the story. I think by reading something close to your opinion makes the person feel better about themselves. It makes the person feel they are not the only one feeling that way. I totally agree with Frank Athens about political blogging and reading only one side. Political blogging is an interesting and easy way to express your political stands on the issue. By using blogs, you are able to say what you want to say without any conflict or verbal responses. You are able to speak your mind without debate or without the interaction. You are also able to view the other parties’ opinion without a trace that you were on their page. But, if you want to step out and speak your mind face to face with someone I think it is important you are knowledgeable about the other side. Because no one wants to listen to what you agree with, they want you to be able to argue your point, make them see why your point is right.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMCB24
    In response to this question I would have to say that this is true for a majority of the population. In recent arguments with opposing parties I came to the realization that it is easy to find an argument that reinforces your opinion, anywhere. I am guilty of it as well. These blogs and forums are very helpful to people trying to decide their views, but they can all be equally convincing. I can sit down and watch Fox news and become furious with the left wing, but later turn on NPR and say “well that makes more sense”. Looking up a site that has some crazy conspiracy about the other party and using it in your arguments is ignorance. I have seen it plenty of times and I have used it plenty of times, though I try to refrain from it now. I am not saying that these blogs and forums are bad, Im just saying don’t form your opinion on the first one you view, because some could make Hitler sound good.
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCapital12
    I would like to make a comment on Frank Athens first statement that, “‘neutral platform’ like, say the Washington Post, are superior content providers.” It is known that newspapers and television networks (mass media) are usually biased either left or right. Therefore, if blogs act as a “portal” to the mass media, this will not ensure a “neutral platform”. The facts might be there, but more importantly are the facts that were omitted.

    The problem with blogs, as opposed to the mass media, is that the writers are not accountable. Therefore leftbloggers and rightbloggers can really put anything as fact and omit any relevant facts at their discretion. Whether you read only left or right blogs, you can not guarantee that you are getting the facts. Therefore readers should look at both sides with skepticism. Whether or not you read only one side or the other doesn’t matter because there is a lack of accountability.

    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBlogman1213
    I would like to begin this post by reflecting on another post provided by “redsox04,” and by explaining why I disagree. I do not think that it is a political blogger’s nature to want to read what supports their opinion; after all, this is politics we’re talking about. In political sense, the main focus is on those who do not agree with you. Most politicians “take in” the opposing party’s opinion and direct their focus towards helping the other party understand there argument, and slowly persuading their beliefs upon them. Why would a political blogger waste their time viewing what they believe and not spend time understanding and trying to change the views of others?
    Politics can easily be described as a game. You can’t win the game without beating somebody first. In other words, political bloggers don’t stay on “their side of the field,” where it is fun and safe. There main goal is to go “head to head,” and beat their opponent. I personally examine my opponent’s mistakes; then I attack. “Practice makes perfect!”
    January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRaider13
    People cannot go through life believing everything they hear. Every person has a
    different way of seeing the same subject. Reports one hear on TV and read on the internet or newspaper has to assume that it is somewhat biased. The writer or reporter will write or report the news how they individually think the news should be represented. They might not think it is bias but someone listening or reading to them might.
    The relationship between a rightblog and leftblog is irrelevant. Weather they go out for beers is not important. I won’t go out for beers with someone I don’t get along with or relax around. That’s with anybody, left or right blog. You will not become “pals” with someone you have nothing in common with.
    The older one gets the more concrete they tend to become in there viewpoint. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Your students are fairly young and interested to learn. That’s why they’re in college and in your class. They tend to be more open-minded.
    So, do I agree with rightblog and leftblog never meet? No, how else would they know what to argue about. Whether or not they care what the other thinks is probably not realistic, therefore, they’re not going to go out of there way to comment about it. If a rightblog or leftblog become friends, that’s all up to that individual.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSteelers fan!!
    The whole idea of a blog is to present information that can be used in an effective way, but as some of the facts become biased we are not able to fully comprehend what the author was originally trying to convey.

    I would have to say that I agree with Frank Athens accusation. Everyone that is involved in a debate or argument likes for their views and opinions to be stable and concrete, so why not read other blogs on the same material that would provide substantial evidence and clarity to their point. Accurate information, a vital ingredient in any political debate, in something that is becoming hard to come by, due to the rise of ill informed political commentators that are giving biased information.

    To close, the problem with blogs is that the data is not always accurate. Whichever blogs you read there is no guarantee that you are getting what you deserve. Whatever you feel that does not suit you, you are able to omit at your discretion. Therefore, while there very well may be a large population who seek only to confirm their own opinions, without verification and cross-examination of the source reliability they will not be able to get the upper hand on their opponent.

    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBlogman1122
    When presented with the opportunity of choice, readers tend to read literature that supports or pertains to their interest. It is my opinion that this holds true, but to a larger extent for the political blogger. This can be attributed to the “precise line” drawn between the two political parties of our country. With neither side in pursuit of compromise on issues that arise. They great divide between the parties views is likely to cause members of either side to subscribe to literature to support their party’s opinion. It is my belief that the strong rhetoric used by many of these bloggers is the origin of such strong feelings of sentiment that do not allow our parties to formulate solutions that better the majority, but rather to cast their party into the lime light.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCajunCat
    Based on the aforementioned, I would have to agree with the concept of blogs and their intentions. I think it is a great way for people in the cyber world, namely younger generations, to gain knowledge on current affairs. Blogs offer a way to “share and compare” ideas and thoughts on related topics, especially that of news.
    Over the past couple of years, web-users have been finding ways to voice their own opinions through web blogs and still project anonymity. I think they find it beneficial to be able to project their platform and see how others respond to that. Granted, there are those who rant on blogs and criticize whatever and whoever they want. But, for the most part, I think there is a greater deal of intelligent bloggers out there that are sharing their own pieces of wisdom and maybe changing the way their supporters and opponents think about topics.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTheCoach
    I agree that most political bloggers only read blogs which are consistent with their own beliefs. They most likely do this to reaffirm what they think. Most people do not want to hear comments contrary to their beliefs, although the opposing beliefs may be true. I think that a political blogger, or any blogger for that matter, should read both blogs that they agree with, and blogs with which they do not. Doing this will broaden their scope of thinking. A blogger may never develop his or her own opinions on a topic if they consistently read blogs which are always written from the left or always written from the right. A political blogger should be aware of all views and should be able to justify why his or her beliefs are correct and why the opposing beliefs are not correct.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterat06
    In response to the article by Frank Athens titled “Are Blogs an Echo Chamber?: Do Political Bloggers Only Read Blogs That They Agree With?” , I would have to say I that I agree with him for the most part. True, some people read just what they want to read and not the other side but I do not believe this is the majority. A lot of people read the opposing sides views just so they can argue about it. Also, I think they are just overall curious about the other side. I think it is true that giving people the choice of what to read “closes” peoples’ mind somewhat in my opinion. There is nobody to shoot them down on their blogs and they are just living in a fantasy world.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlsufootball222
    I would have to say that I agree with the point that Frank Athens is trying to get across. I feel that there is truth in the statement that people only read blogs containing content with which they agree with. Though I’m sure that there are a few readers who are willing to at least read and perhaps even consider the viewpoints of those on the opposing side of the issue, most people would rather read a blog that they feel somehow validates their own views. Although I feel it would be better for political bloggers to read their opposition’s blogs, even if just to educate themselves on the stand that the opposing side is taking, I think that most people do not feel this way and would rather just stick to reading something that agrees with the way they feel about an issue.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteraem128
    I would have to agree Frank Athens. Blogging does create sort of a faceless reality in which any one person can express themselves without feeling completely defenseless. Blogging allows people to share their political ideas and frustrations more intensely then lets say a face to face encounter with someone of a different political view. Where you would tend to get more brutal and personal. Normally I would look at a particular website to get the news based on the information I perfer. I perfer getting the news from one place because the other source agrees with values I dont approve of. I tend to agree with Frank that we all lean to information that supports our beliefs so that we can firmly backup what we believe in. It is almost certain though that many people were set in there ways long before they started getting political mainly from parents perspectives, we all know this. We tend to shut off other views and information based on what is said to be acceptable. However some people make an attempt to be open minded and view the enemys P.O.V and try to establish a neutral ground in which to get accurate information. However blogging allows us to look into these ideas and create assumptions. They can either backup your opinions or they can destroy them. This is why I believe bloggers tend to read political blogs that value their beliefs.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSDD4
    I completely agree that reading blogs that coincide with ones political views would perhaps be more interesting to read about; however, political enthusiasts are often so defensive about their views that they often have a vehement urge to contradict an opposing blog, thus starting a controversial string of posts and sparking a debate. The sensitive nature of political beliefs often fuels such arguments so that the interest of blogs come not from reading and re-reading the same opinions but exposing oneself to statements one might passionately disagree with in order to both express a belief in an environment where the expression stands out and also to spurn arguments with holders of opposing views. This common practice for overly defensive political aficionados gives the opportunity to try and persuade others of a belief and also a way to spout the countless challenges and superior arguments that everyone thinks he possesses.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermyblogname20
    Though I try my best to stay informed, the concept of blogs seems very foreign to me. In fact, I’ve never read one until now. I read the newspaper and get my news online. Even after reading about them, I have a hard time figuring out why people would want to read them. I guess I feel that there is no reason for me to care about this person ‘s (who I don’t know) opinion. The only reasons I can think of wanting to read a political blog is to start an argument. It is very unlikely that I would be able to change my “opponents” views, but I would have a fun time trying. I think there is a strong possibly that many people who read blogs opposite their opinion may do this.
    So in response to the question: “Do Political Bloggers Only Read Blogs That They Agree With?” My answer would be no. I can see where having a partisan blog can encourage reading of another opinion, but for the sake of proving oneself right. Or to strength one’s arguement.
    It seems to me that simply reading to validate ones views is silly. Watch or read objective news and let the facts speak for themselves.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPLB
    I agree with the article because people seem to always read what they want to read. As stated in previous comments, their reading reinforces their opinion and therefore strengthens the bloggers’ side of their story. If they don’t like what they are reading, then it will seem like the article is going against their judgment. However, I disagree in the part of the article where it discusses partisan bloggers. I don’t think bloggers pounce on each other and then “grab a brew together.” I do think that they do all they can to gather information from the other side without having to hang out with them. Doing so, if leftblog and rightblog fall into a debate, then each side will know where they are coming from and be able to make their stand. Bloggers should have strong support for what they have to say because everyone is biased and they will hear it.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Smith
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterx
    I do agree with Frank Athens to a certain extent. Although it seems obviously apparent that bloggers tend to frequent only blogs within their own political views, the beauty of the blog is based on its ability to create a controversial atmosphere in a moderated manner. Therefore, anyone with a differing opinion has the potential to create a large debate that can consequently open the minds of many other bloggers. Thus, not only are bloggers presented with similar viewpoints, but they are also confronted with conflicting ideologies. This is the main characteristic that isn’t present in any of other major forms of media (i.e. newspapers, magazines, etc.) and is what has made blogging so popular today.
    January 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMr. O
    In reference to Mr. Athen’s accusations that most bloggers are closed minded and seem only interested in opinions similar to their own, I feel that in some cases his notions are valid but for the most part they are not. The people that take the time to post a comment to a particular article or opinion generally do so after having reviewed remarks that greatly conflict with their own. I for one am a “blogging” example in that after having read Mr. Athen’s interpretations felt that this is a topic I should share my views on. I do agree with a previous comment that naturally people want to have their own views validated and reinforced but after all, isn’t it conflict and opposition that drive us to compete and voice our own opinions?
    January 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkellyegirl

    Read the Comments

    [ # 19 ] Comment from trinity [February 14, 2007, 9:48 pm]

    Speaking for myself, and as a conservative, I find I spend more time blogging on liberal websites than I do on conservative ones. As much as I enjoy interacting on-line with some of my fellow-conservatives, I would be bored to tears if all I were to hear were comments that agreed with my own.

    I much prefer going to a predominently liberal blog and stating my side of an issue. Of course, I am usually the token conservative there, and I immediately get pounced upon from every direction by liberal bloggers who are itching to debate with someone outside of their own little echo chamber.

    I will say that this can get overwhelming and very time consuming after a while as well, so I do take a break every so often and go into my “read only” mode, where I read everything I can find on the issues, (both sides) soaking up facts until I feel ready to return for more debate.

    [ # 24153 ] Comment from cqkgjytmwg [November 26, 2007, 11:47 am]

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