Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC Day 3 - Guam Mention in the National Journal

Even In Denver, Bloggers Keep Independent Streak
New Media Types Are Excited To Cover The Convention,
But Some Do It With A Critical Eye
by Kevin Friedl, The National Journal
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008

When the Democrats welcomed hundreds of bloggers to Denver, they may not have known what they were in for. Even the most carefully vetted bloggers, it seems, are still capable of biting the hand that feeds them press credentials.

Before the convention had even begun, bloggers invited by the party to cover the event from inside the Pepsi Center were demanding greater access to the floor and overwhelming the DNCC staff with requests. Some bloggers used their initial posts in Denver to complain about security hassles, the credentialing process, and the lack of wireless Internet access, much to the annoyance of Democratic staffers.

Of course, the great majority of the blogs' initial coverage was positive. These are, after all, Democratic partisans. Many see their role as sharing the excitement of the convention experience with audiences back home by posting pictures, video, and regular updates without necessarily editorializing.

"To be honest, I'm a big party supporter," said Jeff Strater, a delegate from Texas and a blogger who said he wouldn't think of including criticism in the online posts of his experiences. "Most of my readers are Democratic Party faithful so, yeah, it wouldn't be cool with them at all."

That's a sentiment unlikely to be heard at the Big Tent, a workspace for bloggers a few blocks outside the convention security perimeter. At an opening press conference on Sunday, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas talked about the need for the blogosphere to check the power of the traditional press and party establishment.

But even within the ranks of those allowed onto the convention floor, many bloggers fiercely assert their independence. "One thing we're not afraid to do is criticize the party, and I do it all the time," said David Dayen, who writes for the California-focused blog Calitics. That iconoclasm, he says, can rub some members of his delegation the wrong way. "I might get a little look here or there, just because of something I've written or talked about."

Greg Palmer, who is blogging with the Pennsylvania delegation this week, acknowledged the temptation to toe the party line but said he would be ill-serving his readership if he did so. He said, "Keystone Politics [the blog for which he writes] has always aimed to be an independent journalism outlet. What we really want to do is get the public interested in politics and policy-making."

To that end, Palmer has posted short interviews with state pols such as Sen. Bob Casey and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. "For me, the more access the better," he said.

The local focus is one reason why the DNCC reached out to blogs in the first place -- to reach smaller, more-focused readerships. But a consequence of embedding a blogger with each delegation is that they have multiple agendas in Denver.

Guam's blogger, Michael Lujan Bevacqua, hopes to draw attention to his island territory. "I will absolutely participate in these celebrations, but I will also be present as a cautious reminder ... about Guam and the Pacific," Lujan Bevacqua wrote on his blog.

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