By Brian Riggins
In a polarizing move, a handful of bloggers were given official press credentials for the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Bloggers are editors of independent online Weblogs, commonly called blogs. The idea behind giving these writers press credentials is that they will be able to give an unfettered or even more exciting, edgy view of what is generally a predictable and meticulously staged event.
People who read their news through blogs often champion the fact that their news isnt coming from a major news organization, and isnt filtered by that organizations agenda. Some proponents of political blogging have compared this years Democratic National Convention to the conventions of the 1950s where television journalists were first present.
However, the idea of bloggers on the convention floor has almost certainly gathered more critics than fans. Even bloggers have admitted that the coverage provided by their peers might be less content-heavy than the content of a real news organization, and some have argued that this candid quality is part of their charm. But Alex Jones published an article late Monday for the Houston Chronicle that warned new blog readers that, among other things, they should expect bitter denunciations, one-sided arguments, erroneous assertions and the array of qualities that might be expected from a blustering know-it-all in a bar.
So, after the opening night of the convention, what are bloggers saying? Some of them have offered starry-eyed views (and sometimes, pictures) of what the inside of the FleetCenter looks like (and how much a Coke costs at the concession standfive bucks!) Jay Rosen of PressThink (http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/) wrote an interesting essay on the role that the press has caused in the decline of conventions. John Burns from Stinging Nettle (http://stinging-nettle.blogspot.com/) wrote a late-night post that praised Jimmy Carters speech, which wasnt given as much attention by the mainstream press as speeches by Bill Clinton or Al Gore. Byron LaMasters has a decent play-by-play critique of Monday nights speeches posted at http://www.burntorangereport.com.
Some other bloggers havent posted at all yet, but that could be due to any number of technical problems and errors brought about by admittedly amateur journalists working without a tech support team. Then again, as a commenter on www.conventionbloggers.com joked, they could be late posting because theyre busy being interviewed by the mainstream news organizations eager to cover The Blogger Story.
A complete listing of bloggers credentialed for the 2004 DNC can be found at http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/001461.php.