Study: Bloggers' reasons for writing change over time

Feb 10, 2010 by Stacy Forster

( -- While political bloggers were initially inspired to post their thoughts online as a way to help them blow off steam or articulate new ideas, over time they're driven to blog by a desire to influence mainstream media or public opinion, according to research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Researchers Brian Ekdale, Kang Namkoong and Timothy K.F. Fung, graduate students from UW-Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and David D. Perlmutter of the University of Iowa, surveyed 66 of the top U.S. political bloggers, asking about their intrinsic and extrinsic reasons for blogging.

Despite the influence bloggers have had on American politics in recent years, little research has been done on the people who sit at the keyboards of the top political blogs, the research says. The bloggers were surveyed before the 2006 midterm elections.

"We asked these bloggers if they felt more motivated to blog now than when they first started, and we found blogging was a motivating activity for them," Ekdale says.

But even as bloggers become more responsive of external reasons for blogging, the internal motivations continue to influence their blogging activities, the study says.

"Relative to when these bloggers first decided to provide their unique point of view online, they now saw an increased need to offer their perspective," says the study, which was published in the New Media & Society. "They became more cognizant of the fact that, outside of traditional news media and day-to-day interactions, the blogosphere provided them with an outlet for disseminating information and expressing political opinions."

The bloggers surveyed indicated that such factors as wanting to let off steam influenced them to start , but the longer they blogged, the more they said external reasons also drove them to blog. That indicates they must have been seeing some effect because of their work, Ekdale says.

"They're still motivated for those intrinsic reasons, but those reasons that allow them to see some sort of impact out in the world — whether that's in the media, the community or a political party — all of those motivations were increasing over time," Ekdale says.

When asked "Why did you start a blog?" the bloggers indicated they were motivated by internal factors such as wanting to improve their writing and thinking on issues, as well as to see if they could effect change in policy or in .

"I recognized that it was a new medium of expression for opinionated and disaffected writers with few other outlets," wrote one blogger. "I was dissatisfied with the current political milieu and experienced enough with the online world to realize that it would be a fun way to write and be read."

Another wrote of blogs, "I was skeptical of them at first... Then I saw that they were capable of moving information around the traditional media bottlenecks and decided that it was something I could contribute to."

The study is part of a larger project by the Social and Democracy research group, developed by a group of graduate students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Dhavan Shah, Maier-Bascom Professor in the School of Journalism and , who taught the students in a seminar on the Internet and democracy, says he's becoming convinced that the shift in the way information is consumed is both powerful and revolutionary.

"It's a change not only in the way we're getting our news information, but how we're fundamentally interacting with each other about issues of importance," making research like that from Ekdale and his other graduate students increasingly important, he says.

Further research from the study, such as reasons readers seek information from blogs, is expected to be published in the coming months, Shah says.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

E-activism: Analysis of black bloggers in the blogosphere

Apr 09, 2007

In the first scholarly research examining the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere, Brown University researcher Antoinette Pole assessed how bloggers of color use their medium for purposes related to politics. She found ...

Euro political blogs lagging behind U.S.

Jan 13, 2006

Blogging in America has been transformed into a political watchdog post shaking up today's political and journalistic worlds; however, the same effect hasn't made a significant stir in European affairs.

Online ethics and the bloggers' code revealed

Jun 25, 2009

Whatever their reason for posting their thoughts online, bloggers have a shared ethical code, according to a recent study published in the journal New Media Society, published by SAGE. Key issues in the blogosphere are te ...

Anti-abortion bloggers convene in Washington

Jan 24, 2006

Technology is playing an integral role in delivering the anti-abortion message, say those in the movement, but better communication between bloggers as well as firsthand reporting is needed, agreed prominent anti-abortion ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.