ceo at mbites media
27 July 2004 22:36pm
"Bloggers make historical debut at DNC" ran the news headline. Bloggers have been given press passes to the Democratic National Convention in Boston this week (and to the Republican shindig later this year). Does this mark a new direction?
In the context of online publishing, blogging has been characterised as the new rock'n roll. Hence why its acceptance at such a major media event feels like a watershed in the history of the form.
Blogger Patrick Belton wrote: "The 2004 conventions will be remembered as the conventions of the blog; just like the 1952 Republican convention was the convention of the television, and the 1924 conventions were the conventions of the radio."
One hesitates to suggest that the same was probably not said of the first day a magazine using Quark Xpress turned up to a press conference, but perhaps that's an unfair comparison.
As a journalist myself, I can't help feeling slightly jealous. Instead of working your way through dead-beat trainee journalism jobs in dead-end regional newspapers; instead of working your way up from Concrete Car Parks Monthly; just set up a blog and get to go to the hottest news event this side of the US presidential election.
Who needs years of sweating over how to create the right intro to a news story - just write down your school-boy impressions of the event and hang out with the guys from Time and Newsweek. QED.
In the meantime, let's look at the cultural and legal framework that has allowed blogging to develop as an online publishing sector in the US.
We can assume that the nation that produced Howard Stern, the Michigan Militia and the Vietnam campus riots is pretty well associated with the concept of free speech. This cultural soup of extremities has helped the opinionated bloggers thrive, along with the required technology of course.
Here in Britain, with a more jaundiced approach to freedoms which might have been won at the battle of Crecy or of Britain (one or the other, I forget), we tend not to bother too much. Besides, we have full time jobs and massive mortgages, haven't you heard?
Secondly, law. In America libel laws are far more conducive to the kind of opinionated rants bloggers are famed for. There, the onus is on the plaintive, not the defendant to make the case for libel.
Here in the UK, the situation is reversed. Rant all you like about general issues, but try to break a story, say, about the sexual practices of a politician - or, more importantly perhaps, the finances of a City CEO - and see how long you last.
This is where the traditional news services have an edge - paying for libel insurance and expensive media lawyers.
However, it would be churlish to deny bloggers their day in the sun. They are already proving their value in the business field (for instance MarketingVox.com, Paidcontent.org).
Blogs have their taken place at the publishing table, there's no doubt about that.
But back at the Convention, reality was biting. The bloggers were finding it hard to keep up with the professional writers.
They attracted feverish attention from the mainstream media but provided little in the way of news.
At Seetheforest.blogspot.com, the writer's computer was starting to “flake out.” He frantically filed the griping news story that his computer was “restarting all by itself while I'm typing, and when it restarts again the file system is corrupt. I can run diskcheck and then use the computer again for a while, but this isn't a good sign at all."
Another wrote how "Here you can get Kerry bobbing head pins, Kerry playing cards and Kerry shot glasses. Who says Democrats can't have fun..."
Free market research on digital marketing
Daily Pulse: award winning newsletter
It takes 30 seconds to register