9/11: “A galvanising point for the blogging world”
In Reporting War, Barbie Zelizer and Stuart Allan suggest that the attack on the World Trade Center seven years ago was a significant moment in the history of war reporting.
As mainstream media servers struggled to cope with the volumes of traffic accessing their websites, bloggers inevitably dropped their usual subjects and began piecing together accounts, photographs, information and links. (There’s an archive of 9/11 weblogs here).
In this article, Dan Gillmor describes 9/11 as “a galvanizing point for the blogging world”:
“We had this explosion of personal, public testimony and some of it was quite powerful. I remembered that old cliche that journalists write the first rough draft of history. Well now bloggers were writing the first draft.”
Glenn Harlan Reynolds of the blog InstaPundit.com believed that there was a noticeable change in the focus of the blogosphere after the attacks:
“The Weblog world before September 11 was mostly inward-looking – mostly tech people talking about tech things. After 9/11, we got a whole generation of Weblogs that were outward looking.”
In the following years, the use of blogs accelerated in response to US involvement in major military operations in the â€˜war on terrorâ€™.
Blogging soldiers provided first-hand accounts of life on the frontline, giving birth to the military blog or milblog, while conservatives and liberals used blogs to fiercely debate US foreign policy.
When mainstream media organisations covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, they found they were taking flak from bloggers on both sides of the political fence: pro-war blogs perceived a liberal bias within newsrooms; anti-war bloggers felt journalists relied too heavily on official Pentagon sources for their information.