MPs and their Blogs (2007)

In 2007, Dr Mary Francoli, then Leverhulme Visiting Fellow in the New Political Communication Unit under a project grant won by Andrew Chadwick, and Stephen Ward, then of the Oxford Internet Institute, studied the development of MPs' blogging in the UK and Canada. The project traced the growth and prevalence of MPs' blogging, the scope and objectives of such blogs, and assessed their democratic significance. The comparative nature of the study helped to answer questions regarding institutional and systemic features which help shape the blogosphere. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were employed, including interviews with MPs in both Canada in the UK, content analysis of MPs’ blogs, as well as the use of domain statistics tools which helped identify the networks which include such blogs.

Conclusions show blogging to be a minority interest among political representatives, with approximately 38 MPs blogging in the UK as of 2007 and 8 in Canada. Interestingly, the UK saw expansion during 2005/06, at the same time the Canadian blog scene has withered as a result of strict party discipline. Only a small minority of blogs show potential for democratic debate or conversation; many are not interactive and those that are receive little to no comments.
An early version of the study was presented at the UK Political Studies Association conference in Bath, April 2007 and the paper was published in the journal Information Polity. Dr Francoli is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University.