Journalists at Convention Still Don’t Know What to Make of Bloggers

I had to chuckle at David Carr’s article about bloggers “lurking around every turn” at the Democratic convention. In a somewhat annoyed tone he writes:

Each time there was a reporting stop — at a small McCain counterdemonstration, a Hillary counterdemonstration, or in the bloggers’ tent — the people formerly known as the audience refused to behave like one. They brandished video cams, iPhones and recorders, doing their own documentation of what was under way.

He continues that every time he stops to speak to someone the bloggers and citizen journalists with recording devices seize on him and his every conversation: “When [I] stopped in the Big Tent and talked to Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, a blogger nearby perked his ears up from three feet away and started live blogging the conversation.”

And Mr. Newmark’s words indeed sound pretty bloggable:

“I think when you think about the network democracy or participatory democracy thing, this is a turning point in American history,” Mr. Newmark said, “potentially realizing the vision of the founders of this country because they and we wanted a more direct form of democracy. And with the Internet, we can start moving a little bit more in that direction.”

An unprecedented number of bloggers have been given credentials to the convention; some granted traditional journalistic credentials with limited access, while others have gained a coveted “state blogger credential” which allows unlimited floor access and were given out to leading political bloggers from each of the fifty states. Not to be outdone, the Republicans have reportedly already given out credentials to 200 bloggers for their upcoming convention.

This all strikes me as for the better, and will hopefully lead to some more substantive discussions about policy instead of just personalities, in what have become overly-scripted and staid political conventions. However, a comment by Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos in a New York Times article about the “year of the political blogger” worries me. Bloggers may have already begun to adopt bad journalistic habits like talking to each other more than conducting interviews or sniffing out stories that don’t make it into the traditional media. Markos prefers to stay in the bloggers tent, adding, “I have no interest in going to the convention hall and chances are I will not,” he said. “There’s nothing happening in the convention hall that would justify braving the long security lines and crowds.”

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