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Weblogs as a New Source of Information - Are Blogs Replacing Mainstream Media

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           Weblogs as a New Source of Information 


                    Are Blogs Replacing Mainstream Media?




   "The internet is no respecter of national borders of time, or, for that matter, unquestioned patriotism or nationalism. Charges can quickly be matched by counter charges; simple assertions can be stripped away by clicking on the next link. Cyberspace is both a vast reservoir of information - useful as well as trivial - and a babbling brook of streaming consciousness." (War in Cyberspace) 




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                                                          Table of Contents



         1. Introduction


           2. Analysis     


                  2.1. Communication and Narration in the Blog 


                2.2. The Intentions of a Blogger


                  2.3. Are Blogs Replacing  Mainstream Media?


           3. Conclusion 


           4. Work Cited




1.  Introduction



           The internet has vital impact on our life nowadays as it becomes more and more popular.It allows us to have wider range of communication and interaction, to exchange and share experience, thoughts, information. The universe of people who use the web, for instance - for news or anything else - is not growing as fast anymore  but the frequency with which people turn to the medium is increasing. Rather than something more people are discovering, that internet is becoming part of their daily life. During the 2003 Iraq War, wireless technologies became available, which allowed millions of people to learn more about the war. Weblogs became very popular as they allowed professional journalists and amateur writers to communicate with huge mass audiences. Digitalized information from war zones started to influence public opinon and public policies. (War in Cyberspace)As the  Warblogs are the new dimension in public communication, I will examine L.T. Smash's milblog "Live from the Sandbox". The following questions will be discussed: Why are warblogs an important source of disseminating information? Are such blogs as  "Live from the Sandbox" turning into alternate media? Weighing all these points, this essay will also focus on the positive aspects of the influence of  weblogs on our society and it will point out that these changes driven by the new information sources will have a huge impact on the way people receive information.



2.  Analysis



"L.T. Smash-Live From the Sandbox"



War- themed blog "Live From the Sandbox", was one of the most popular alternative news source during the second US war with Iraq, in the spring of 2003. L.T. Smash is the blog nickname for a reservist in the US  Navy, who transmitted daily updates to the web sites about the war developments in Iraq. L.T. Smash's blog can be seen as "a new genre of journalism that emphasizes personalization, audience participation in content creation and story forms that are fragmented and interdependent with other websites." (`Blogs of War´ p. 153) According to Military.com, L.T. Smash's website was one of the first warblog to achieve wide readership. "SMASH entertained readers back home with stories of living in a military camp."(Military.com)


In his posting "FIFTEEN MINITES", L.T. Smash admits that he wants to remain anonymous:"This is an anonymous journal. I'm being intentionally vague about who I am and what I'm doing. Those who know me can fill in the blanks. The rest of you will have to use your imagination." ( L.T. Smash, 2003) L.T. Smash remains anonymous in order to be able to express his opinion openly about the war.




2.1. Communication and Narration in the Blog



At first sight blogging, seems merely a way to show one's own opinion and ideas. From a communicative perspective a weblog not only transmits information through the internet, but also takes on a receiving role. L.T. Smash gives his readers the opportunity to respond to different postings and get involved in conversations through a weblog. He has also an ability to interact in a meaningful way with others on subjects where he can express his opinion or inner feeling without any prejudice. That makes his blog a different way to communicate with others than traditional news websites do. According to the Elmine Wijnia, because of their communication capacities, weblogs do offer a platform for the ideal speech situation. "Future use of weblogs lie in the three formal world perspectives Habermas distinguishes: self-expression (subjective), sharing knowledge (objective) and social criticism (inter-subjective)."(Understanding Wablogs)


L.T. Smash is performing his thoughts to an audience, who make their presence available via an E-mail or explicit reactions such as comments or other communicated references to the blog material. The blog remains highly interactive, as the audience can participate in content construction by participating in the comments section. In his posting, L.T. Smash greets his readers around the globe and posts their letters in the blog. He writes to his readers, "Thanks for all your kind messages" and then includes on his centre column an excerpt from a message sent in by a reader that "made my eyes tear up"(L.T. Smash, 2003)

A letter L.T. Smash received from the reader : " I am an Iranian citizen watching the current events with attention. I'd like to send you the sympathy and blessing of many Iranian citizens who believe that the intervention in Iraq was necessary and just... May Got bless you all. May Got bless a free Iran and may Got bless America."(L.T. Smash,2003)



Narration in the Blog:




  • First-person narration- "I started this journal with the idea that it would be a good way to keep my family and friends up to date on my adventures."(Fifteen Minutes)
  • Diary form and Grammatical language- "Reports of deaths and casualties bring mixed emotions. Sadness at the injury or loss of fellow warriors. Hope this ends quickly." (Life During the Wartime)
  • Use of direct speech- "Took a little time to read some of your e-mails last night." An advice of sarcasm and irony, can also be seen in his posting "PSSST", which shows that the blogger is not afraid to express his opinion directly.






         Can you hear it?

         Do you know what that sound is?

         That's the sound of Time. Running. Out.



                          (Posted by LT Smash)


  • Form of narration- L.T. Smash uses different styles that occur in everyday life:
    • Dialogue/Conversation
    • Letter
    • Revision of the day in form of a diary



Traditional journalism versus Blog journalism



                                                                              Traditional journalism               Blog journalism


Narrative style






`Both´ sides









Approache to audience


Audience as passive 


Audience as co-creator





Story form

Structured format(e.g.

inverted pyramid)

Answers basic questions

(who, what,etc.)

Closed text

Source and datelines for





Open text

Hyperlinks for credibility


                                                                                                            ( Table 2.`Blogs of War´; p. 162)



According to Melissa Wall, the traditional voice for a professional journalist is neutral and represents both sides of the story. Whereas the voice of the blogger is personalized, opinionated and often one-sided. "Indeed, an opinionated voice is a hallmark of blog writing and those mainstream journalists who fail to reflect this are criticized as not being true bloggers."(`Blogs of War´; p.161) The main point is that the way people gather information has changed over the past decade and continues to evolve. Weblogs not only provide interesting reading but, by means of hyperlinks,allow audiences, to discover new facts, alternative views, or supplemental data that greatly enhance the reading experience.




2.2. The Intentions of a Blogger



Blogs such as "L.T. Smash's- Live From the Sandbox" have shown an ability to inform people with the news about the war. So, why do bloggers blog?  what are they looking for? What are they expecting from their Blog? those are the most important questions, that can be divided in three mainstream intentions spheres: Networking, knowledge and popularity.


 Networking:   Bloggers create a blog in order to relay or share information. There are Milblogs, Family blogs, Friends Networks, etc.


Knowledge: Making a blog in a quest of information, for a specific purpose, personal quest, asking questions, finding answers. Blogers want to share practical knowledge or skills with others.


Popularity: Bloggers make blogs to become famous, to become a influencer in a specific field, to relay politics, etc.



So, one can argue that bloggers blog for many different reasons- Some blog to exercise their creative writing, others want to motivate or inform others. Bloggers use their blog as a way of documenting  ideas and events and strong them for later retrieval, while others view it as a way to share, to entertain and to inform themselvs.




2.3. Are blogs replacing mainstream media?



During the 2003 war in iraq, many soldiers and professional journalists  started weblogs. These bloggers described the horrors of war, presented viewpoints on military successes, related combat stories and disclosed their own feelings in a way that would never be part of evening news. In his online essay Robert S. Kennedy argues that "Weblogs offer the possibility of transforming publishing and traditional media into more personal and interactive experiences in which the individual is not just a passive consumer but an active participant." (Multimedia Reviews)


According to Jason Gallo, "...will bloggers actually deeply undermine editional and corporate power in the media? So far I think the answer is no. Blogs arn't replacing mainstream media. They're infiltrating, supplementing, and buttressing it."(Weblog Journalism) So, blogs will continue to develop and the inevitable outcome of this magnificent invention will change the way people receive information. This remarkable idea of blogging perhaps will revolutionize our future live.






3. Conclusion



  In Conclusion, many people use weblogs for different reasons, but thay all use it to communicate, to gain information or to  share experiences in some way. The World Wide Web gives us possibility to come together in this virtual cyberspace for our convenience, in order to make our world much smaller and more accessible place. As, the web is effecting so many peoples lives, weblogs will become more useful and it will continue to change our social, educational and political thinking in most welcome, exciting and challenging way.






4 Work Cited                                                                                                      


 Fellowa, D., & Rainie, L (2004). The Internet as a unique source: Millions go online for news and images not covered in the mainstream press. PEW Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved September 18, 2008 from <http://www.pewinternet.org>


Wall, Melissa: "`Blogs of War´ Weblogs as news." Journalism.  2005, 6:  p. 153-172. 22 February. <http//:jou.sageepub.com>


 "L.T. Smash- Live From the Sandbox" Reader p: 130-156.<http//:www.lt-smash.us/>



Gallo, Jason: Weblog Journalism: Between Infiltration and Integration?, in Gurak, Laura J. et al (eds.) Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs, 2004. Retrieved September 20, 2008 from



Military.Com. All the Benefits of setvice : The Indepuntit. Retrieves September 20, 2008 from <http://www.military.com/blog/indepundit>


Wijnia, Elmine: Understanding Weblogs: a communicative perspective. Rertieves September 18, 2008 from<http://www.elmine.wijnia.com/weblog/archives/wijnia_understandingweblogs.pdf>










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