Blog War in Georgia, or Commenter Trend Piece Again?

Foreign Policy writes about the "blog war" propaganda aspect of the war between Russia and Georgia, referring to a bunch of—TREND!—largely anonymous Russian bloggers and commenters leaving comments of varying political rhetoric on websites. Don't get so excited, guys; nothing new here. Old-timey journalists talked in-person to actual people fleeing wars at train stations and the like, instead of trolling websites for the ramblings of people who, for all we know, are the digital equivalent of the wackjob coots who write polemical letters to the local paper.

That's not to say that online commenters are any more or less accurate than their real live predecessors—civilians during previous wars often didn't have any insight or even eyewitness accounts of the situation they were escaping. Rumors, propaganda, and paranoia abounds in both the in-person and digital retelling of these stories, only now journalists don't even have to leave the house to get their quotes. Columbia Journalism Review calls the Russian blogosphere a "lively debate," but it reads more like a clusterfuck, much like the actual war itself.

On the other hand, who would've imagined that online-diary website LiveJournal would become the front lines for disseminating information for journalists and citizens blogging from the actual front lines? CJR also reports that while Georgia's access to Russian websites is getting shut down, LiveJournal—popular amongst young Russians—is "accessible because of its .com suffix, rather than the suddenly problematic .ru suffix."