The New York Times editorializing about the Democratic National Convention’s press-credentialed bloggers in
Conventioneering.com, wonders if this will result in a cooptation of bloggers’ fiercely independent cast:
. L. Mencken is said to have guffawed and slapped his thigh in delight at times as he would write about a typical day at a presidential nominating convention. Those long-ago times are enviable for their unpredictability – eons removed from the scripted conventions that will soon be offered to the nation once more as lean cuisine for thought. All the more reason to hope, then, that this year’s one potentially risky innovation – accepting dozens of free-form online bloggers as accredited convention journalists – may lace the proceedings with fresh insight and even some Menckenian impertinence.
People who think the mushrooming world of wannabe polemicists and their Web logs, or blogs, is merely a high-tech amusement should talk to Senator Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican.
In Web lore, bloggers are credited with relentlessly drilling Senator Lott after he expressed segregation-tinged nostalgia for the Strom Thurmond presidential campaign, a story that the major news media initially missed. Mr. Lott was subsequently forced to quit as majority leader.
Beyond its power as a source of news and commentary, the Internet has proved itself to be the ultimate fund-raising tool. Bloggers can be crass and biased, but politicians no longer scoff at their rich online realm. Hence the red carpet at the conventions – at least for some of them.
The Democrats, needless to say, are already paying for their venturesome invitation. They received applications from 50 bloggers and later announced there was room for only 30. Conspiracy theories are already abounding on the blogs of the disinvited. Such is Web life. We do wonder whether a blogger’s buccaneer self-image will suffer from having to wear a garish credential necklace just to watch conventioneers as they mainly say, “Nice to see you!” to each other. Will bloggers be tamed into centrism? Or, like Mencken, will they gleefully report that the convention’s main speechmakers are “plainly on furlough from some home for extinct volcanoes”? Log on to find out.
I am one of the bloggers chosen to cover the DNC, as noted here and at a number of my weblogs. I’ve going to set up a “conventionology” category at any of the weblogs where I might comment on the DNC and then pull together a single RSS feed with anything thus tagged. I’ll post the link to that single feed when it’s ready. (I have to either build it as a template in MT or generate it from PHP and mySQL directly – anyone want to help with the latter exercise?).
I don’t think my views will be tamed by this experience but I will try to report on everything I see and experience from the perspective of someone who does not come from inside the beltway.