The rise of the popularity of blogs coincided with the turn of the 21st century. This is attributed to the fact that blogging software began to be developed in 1999 and widely adopted the following year. Some early blogging tools included Open Diary, LiveJournal and blogger.com.
One of the first widespread uses of blogs was for political news coverage. Blogs became an important media outlet not only for breaking political news, but also for politicians and pundits to release spun versions of the news. The political impact of blogs was noted after an incident in 2002 when the Republican majority in the Senate honored longtime Senator Strom Thurmond. When it was suggested that Thurmond would have made a good President, bloggers reacted with facts about the Senator’s past approval of racial segregation. Bloggers began to dig up old video and print quotes from Senator Thurmond’s speeches. The remarks made at the party were not widely covered by the mainstream media, but the impact of blogs eventually played a hand in the resignation of Trent Lott as Senate majority leader.
Another incident demonstrating the impact of political blogs occurred when CBS reporter Dan Rather presented documents to the public that seemed to show the military service of President George W. Bush was not what he had claimed it to be. Bloggers jumped to the occasion and presented evidence that pointed to Rather’s documents as being forgeries.
Both of these incidents gave credibility to blogs as more than personal journals. Blogs had become accepted by the mainstream media and the public as a valid means of disseminating the news and other information. Eventually, respected journalists began blogs of their own, which further blurred the line between the official news media and blogs.
Four years into the new century, blogs were well embedded into the public consciousness as a legitimate form of media. Network news services, political advisors and even political candidates ran blogs to bring news and other information to the public. Blogs became viewed as important tools for reaching out to the public and expressing personal opinions on issues of the day. Politicians who were not actively campaigning started blogs as a simple means to keep in touch with and give solidarity to their constituents.
In 2005, several bloggers were recognized by Fortune Magazine and other sources for their contributions to society. Fortune Magazine named eight of these bloggers as business people that could not be ignored. They included Peter Rojas, Ben Trott, Robert Scoble and Xeni Jardin.
The popularity of blogs gave rise to a new form of social media and online presence that was dubbed Web 2.0. Web 2.0 referred to websites that were largely interactive, some of which had content that was fully created by users. Today, the term Web 2.0 has fallen out of favor as blogging and interactive websites have further blended with traditional websites, making a distinction between the two unnecessary. Many traditional websites now have a blog section, effectively combining the best of both types of websites.
Blogs have now been adopted by national governments. Israel was the first country to have an official blog, which was launched in 2007 by Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs David Saranga. Saranga’s campaign to makeover Israel’s public image also included a MySpace page, Facebook page and the first press conference held by a national government via Twitter.
In 2009, it was reported that blogging was one of the factors responsible for the decline of newspapers in the United States. Several newspapers had filed for bankruptcy or otherwise ending their circulation. President Barrack Obama was forced to make a public statement backing the importance of traditional media, stating that most newspapers upheld higher standards of fact checking and objectivity.