In the Battle(Field): The US Military, Blogging & and the Struggle for Authority

My examination of the military’s reaction to the rise of social media has been accepted for publication by the journal Media, Culture and Society. I argue that the military has been caught off-guard by the rise of social media and its reaction uneven as different voices from within that arena seek to control and manipulate what is a networked, non-hierarchical form of communication.  The military has long been able to virtually  set the mainstream media’s agenda through its influence on mainstream reporting.  The rise of solider bloggers and others who post unapproved content has led to fissures within the military “field” (yes, a Bourdieuian analysis) revealing the internal struggle for social, political and cultural capital.   Some of what I ponder:

  • a comparison of two key milbloggers, Colby Buzzell (aka a self-described pre-military skateboard punk) and J. P. Borda (college educated computer guy/National Guardsman who founded the world’s largest military blog aggregator, milblogging.com), whose trajectories as posterboys for military social media have been quite different
  • a look at the online media and blogger reception to the 2007 Army directive that appeared to ban blogging
  • the Pentagon Bloggers’ Rountables (they pick the bloggers, they set the agenda)
  • the Milbloggies, awards for top blogs, as a consecration rite (I warned you about the Bourdieu part)

This study follows up on my chapter, “Taming the Warblog” in Stuart Allan and Einar Thorsen’s book, Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives.

And if you don’t trust me, read the Army Times on the military’s crackdown on bloggers.

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