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July 6, 2004
WaPo: We Still Don't Understand Blogs

The Washington Post reports today on the official inclusion of bloggers at the national conventions this election cycle by both Democrats and Republicans, and reporter Brian Faler manages to miss the point of blogging almost entirely:

The Web sites, which are essentially online journals, have become a prominent campaign tool this election season -- ever since former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's official blog caught on. Since then, scores of other candidates have developed similar sites. Some candidates have begun advertising on other independent blogs -- especially sites that feature commentaries, usually partisan, on the political news of the day.

But neither party has ever allowed bloggers to cover one of its presidential conventions firsthand -- and the decision seems to promise a clash of two very different cultures. The conventions have become carefully staged productions intended, primarily, to reintroduce the parties' nominees to the general public. Independent blogs -- especially those focusing on politics -- are far more freewheeling, their authors mixing fact with opinion and under no obligation to be either fair or accurate.

Well, the point of blogging is to have a point of view, a fact that escapes Faler altogether, even after Kos bluntly tells him the same thing in a later quote. No one expects blogs to be balanced and unbiased, unlike expectations for reporters of national media outlets. Unfortunately, they usually don't meet expectations in this regard, either becoming cheerleaders for a candidate (Jodi Wilgoren from the New York Times) or distortion providers against a candidate (Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank from the Post). Michelle Malkin notes some fairness and accuracy issues from the Post's past that he conveniently omits from his critique.

Political parties have chosen bloggers to cover the conventions in order to get their message out, relatively unfiltered, to the mass of their base. It's especially important now, since the networks plan to scale back live coverage to just the major speeches at both conventions. Bloggers can help fill in the gaps that the media misses, and bloggers can be relied upon to be enthusiastic in doing so.

I did note that Faler says the Democrats are currently reviewing the 60 bloggers who applied for credentials and expect to have decisions made on which to approve in the "next few weeks". Since it's only three weeks to the convention, those approvals should have been made much earlier. Bloggers do not have expense accounts and will need to make the least expensive arrangements possible. Waiting until the last minute on this decision will not endear the Democrats to the blogging community, pro-left or not. I hope the Republicans note this and expedite their vetting process. [Full disclosure: I applied for one of the blogging credentials at the Republican convention. Feel free to write them in support of an early credentialing process as well as for my inclusion.]

Addendum: Only 60 bloggers applied for credentials for the convention? Is that all the excitement the port side of the blogosphere can muster for the chance to cover the Democratic National Convention? That's a pretty pitiful response. I hope that the Republicans got more applicants than that.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 6, 2004 6:39 AM

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Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed rightly take Brian Faler of the Washington Post to task for a sneering article that makes much of bloggers not being obligated to be fair or accurate. Malkin notes that the Post is guilty of itself fabricating facts to ... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2004 8:20 PM

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