September 1, 2004

Salon Takes A Few Cheap Shots

Mark Follman at writes a review of the credentialed RNC bloggers for the Wednesday edition, and he doesn't much like what he's reading (registration or ad torture required). Follman points out that we bloggers set our expectations high and argues that we've failed to even try to meet them:

The bloggers, in brief interviews with the Journal, promised some big things themselves. After a good bit of hemming and hawing about their counterparts' failure to turn out any meaningful coverage at the Democratic get-together in Boston, the cutting-edge RNC crew pledged to zero in on the important issues in New York.

"Readers rightly criticized the number of 'hey, look at me' posts from DNC bloggers," remarked Kevin Aylward, a technology consultant who authors the Wizbang! blog. "I'm aware much of the audience isn't interested in what I had for dinner and what my hotel room is like."

"Being there isn't good enough, nor is posting what you ate for lunch or which movie star or politico you bumped into in the elevator," said Tom Bevan, editor of Real Clear Politics.

"Bloggers need to take the opportunity seriously and focus on covering the convention, not on themselves. Bloggers need to remember that it is opportunity and a responsibility," proposed Matt Margolis, who contributes to Blogs for Bush.

After writing this far into an article about blogging for a web magazine and failing to provide his readers with even one working link back to these sites, Follman proceeds to chew us out for not performing to our own expectations:

At 10:14 p.m., during the heart of Sen. John McCain's speech on the convention floor, Aylward unveiled his final headline entry of the evening:


"The hostesses at the Cablevision Suite - smokin' hot." ...

Then there was this post at 9:13 p.m. from Oxford University doctoral candidate David Adesnik, whose OxBlog, he told the Wall Street Journal, is penned by three graduate students "with a passionate interest in foreign affairs, electoral politics, journalism, law and single-malt scotch."

"OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Miss America Erika Harold is visiting Bloggers Row!

"UPDATE: The extremely lucky Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush has put up a picture of himself with Miss Harold."

And so on, although I noticed that Follman managed to figure out hyperlinks just in time to link back to those posts which offended him so much. Congratulations, Mark; I know it's tough to keep up with the details when you are expected to write two articles a week, as opposed to the ten or so we're each producing per day here at the RNC.

I feel enabled to scorch Follman on this since, oddly, he failed to even mention Captain's Quarters, presumably because he either found nothing objectionable or he just didn't know I was there. Nor did Follman remember that we were not invited to be the Junior League Print Media; we were invited because of who we are and what we've done all along at our sites.

Wizbang has a regular, long-running GOP Babe feature. But besides that, Kevin has also posted stories on Al Franken's assault on a Laura Ingraham producer, an opinion piece on Democratic claims that Republicans exploited 9/11 Monday evening, participated in the group scoop on the Tommy Franks endorsement of George Bush (we beat Hannity by 20 minutes), and a number of background items that Kevin thinks will interest his readers. Scott at Slant Point has interviewed a delegate about the platform for the convention, gone behind the scenes in a funny look at the wait staff, and written over 20 posts in the past two-plus days on the convention itself. Matt at Blogs for Bush has posted the audio stream of every nterview we've done, which takes both technical expertise and a great deal of Matt's time.

In short, Follman decided it would be more fun to take cheap shots at fifteen people who work hard to give their readers their personal take on the convention by ridiculing their story choices as unprofessional. Well, Mr. Follman, we aren't journalists in the sense that hires -- we're bloggers, with a different if overlapping audience with such outlets as Salon itself. We weren't hired to be journalists, we were invited to blog the convention.

And if there is a difference, it's probably that we research our multiple posts better than the cherry-picking and poor HTML work that Salon seems to think meets professional-level standards. It's no coincidence that Follman only provides links to the selected posts instead of the home page of each blog, where the work could be seen i n context. In our marketplace, such shoddy and transparently biased work would completely discredit a blogger and put them out of business. It's telling that in Follman's marketplace, it passes not only his own standards but Salon's editorial review.

UPDATE: Jeff at Protein Wisdom notes that Follman's superior journalistic intellect didn't discover that one of the bloggers he quotes isn't attending the convention. And check out the comments, where Follman first doesn't figure out what the joke is, and then claims he was just playing along with it.


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