Blogging elections

When it comes to politics and democracies, the media play an important part in informing the population of important events and moulding public opinion of a political situation. Important to cyberdemocracy then, is the electronic media.

A free and responsible media is essential for any democracy. And I guess you don’t quite get a space more free than the blogosphere. Independent thinkers writing freely about their thoughts and ideas for all to read and respond to.

When it comes to elections, we rely on traditional media to cover the event, comment on its legitimacy, uncover the injustices and announce the final results. But, how different would it be if we bloggers were part of the media team responsible for covering the electoral process.

Matthew Buckland, GM of the Mail and Guardian has proposed this very idea to the Independent Electoral commission for South Africa’s next presidential elections next year. “Blogs open up the space for many different voices to be heard.”

According to Buckland, the IEC has responded favourably, it is now just a question of logistics. He said we it would not be logical to expect everyone with a blog to descend on the elections demanding access and permission to report on events.

It has been suggested that various blog aggregators like Amatomu be used to identify the prominent bloggers who write with authority and have an interest and insight into South Africa’s political landscape.

Great idea! There are reports of the public losing trust in the traditional media and it’s ability to give an unbiased report. Bloggers carry a lot of credibility with their readers and followers. And because blogs allow for a more personal account than traditional media, a whole new kind of media coverage can be seen; coverage that includes independent critique and that has a strong support base that thinks it credible.

But what about the voices still not heard within this great free independent blogosphere? Many of the countries rural areas are unpenetrated by the internet. Their lack of infrastructure already puts them at a great disadvantage, it would be great to hear their voices for change and allow them access to information about their political system and all the players with it.

No one solution can possibly solve all the many problems in this country but allowing more voices to speak on issues is a definite step in the right direction.

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