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Bloggers Type It Like It Is in Boston

By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 9:53 AM

Bloggers are keeping journalists' tongues wagging and fingers hunting and pecking three days after the Democratic National Convention kicked off, the latest sign that Boston's colossal confab is long on hot air and short on real news.

And like lab animals, bloggers are being poked and prodded every which way by the "mainstream" media, even as it throws its own correspondents -- from the Associated Press to the Los Angeles Times -- on the web log heap.

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Seeing the Forest blogger Dave Johnson gave a nod yesterday to how pervasive the blogger watching game on the convention floor has become: "Now the people sitting here who AREN'T bloggers are being interviewed by the press ... One guy is a blogger who snuck into the area."

The Associated Press concluded in a recent piece that while the convention rolled out the welcome mat to bloggers in a historic first, it is still trying to figure out how to treat them. (GOPers don't fret, Republicans are doling out press credentials to bloggers for their convention and expect more since blogging for the Democrats' Boston party has become a hot commodity).

"In many respects, the arrival of independent Web journalists at the Democratic National Convention in Boston was largely about hype. One of the 'bloggers' had even compared his presence to the introduction of television to politics more than a half-century ago. But it quickly became clear that bloggers were still trying to figure out their role," the AP's Anick Jesdanun wrote. "It seems as if bloggers were awed by the whole idea of being among the first of their kind at a national party convention -- and had to call attention to that fact. Reading the early postings, I found more about bloggers than about the delegates, speakers or protesters. One posted a photo of the media pass, while several showed their 'Bloggers Boulevard' workspace. A few discussed the identity of a fellow blogger who had been anonymous until then."
Associated Press via USA Today: Convention Bloggers Feel Their Way: A Review

Welcome to the world of a slow news day. The blog posting led anchors on CNN and other stations to ask probing questions to pundits, such as, "So, tell me, how will blogs impact the convention?"

The Dallas Morning News noted that "bloggers have received round-the-clock coverage from other journalists, who seem alternately fascinated and threatened by them. Still, their numbers are small: An estimated 15,000 journalists are here, compared with 30-some credentialed bloggers. Whether the Web scribes become convention fixtures remains to be seen. Four years ago, dot-coms covering the conventions were touted as the big new thing. Some of the online outlets have since shut down, and others have described the Web coverage of 2000 as 'gimmicks.' Jay Rosen, chairman of the New York University journalism department, said bloggers bring fresh eyes to an event covered largely by journalists who have already been there, done that. 'Bloggers don't necessarily buy the idea that there's no news,' said Mr. Rosen, who is blogging from Boston on pressthink.org," the newspaper said.
The Dallas Morning News: No News Shortage For Blogs (Registration required)

And more commentary from the Houston Chronicle "Some believe that their loose, highly personal accounts of the convention on Web logs -- known as 'blogs' -- may transform the way political conventions are covered, just as radio did in 1924 and television did in 1952. To others, they're a bunch of self-involved slackers whose impact has been inflated. But everyone agrees that convention bloggers are here to stay," the paper said. A sampling of what bloggers think of themselves: "This is a watershed moment," David Sifrey, founder of blog tracking site Technorati, told the paper. "Just like e-mail revived the lost art of letter writing, blogging is reviving the lost art of civic dialogue. It's a new kind of pamphleteer."
Houston Chronicle: Bloggers Are Becoming Talk of Convention

Now here's a telling sign of how much of an impact blogs are having at the convention: Veteran AP political correspondent and executive Walter Mears is penning a blog for the wire service. "I get more reaction than I got in 40 years of covering politics," Mears said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

My two cents: Blogs are akin to wire services that provide updated news on the fly, though blogs are more opinionated and snarky -- a term so beloved by bloggers and most aptly applied to Wonkette author (and MTV convention correspondent Ana Marie Cox. Oh, and they're not always as family-friendly as, say, Charles Osgood on Sunday Morning (example here, courtesy of Wonkette).

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