The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

CONVENTION BLOGGERS: MAKING NEWS, NOT REPORTING IT
Two weeks ago, I pointed out how the party conventions are essentially non-hard-news events, and thus the much-hyped addition of bloggers to this year's DNC wouldn't mean much, other than producing a lot of inane blog posts.

I think I hit it on the head, as the AP's Anick Desjanun describes the babe-in-the-woods result from Bloggers Boulevard that I predicted.

But to clarify my point, that I feel was lost over at Poynter.org: This is not being dismissive of the bloggers. Rather, it's being dismissive of the convention. Like I said before, the modern Democratic and Republican National Conventions are overblown pep rallies, devoid of anything but the most camera-ready events. Part of the hype surrounding the bloggers' participation was a false expectation that these new-media mavericks were going to worm their way behind the scenes and extract some "real" news (even though, in some of these bloggers' cases, their forte isn't actually obtaining first-hand information anyway). I maintained that you can't dig out any real news where, by design, there is none. So it was unfair to expect the blogs to reveal anything substantial. Even the mainstream media isn't doing that, although rampant cynicism explains this as an unwillingness to do so, when in fact the reason remains the same: There's nothing substantial to report.

To fill that vacuum, naturally bloggers will resort to lots of observational information. For first-timers, just being there and experiencing the atmosphere is the main story, so that's fodder enough for plenty of postings. For something like this, that's the best you could hope for.

As it turns out, the novelty of the bloggers' very presence helped to fill the news vacuum, for themselves and the rest of the media. Which further underlines my point about there being so little real news to focus on at a convention anyway (at least in the FleetCenter; the protests outside are getting little coverage, something you'd think bloggers would flock to).

I suspect things will be about the same for the bloggers at the Republican National Convention next month. I wonder if any bloggers who are now at Boston will also go to New York; checking in on a battle-tested blogger, no longer wide-eyed at the credentialed-media process, might be interesting.