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Monday, May 10, 2004

Today's Boston Globe covers the topic of summer Democratic convention coverage under the headline, "Blogs colliding with traditional media," but the actual "colliding" mentioned in Joanna Weiss's article is between the bloggers and the "old-hand political structures" that give out press credentials.

This year, Weiss reports, the authorities plan to "grant some of their 15,000 coveted credentials to blogs, the online diaries that link to news reports, post comments from readers, and critique the political process with unrestrained abandon."

The story's a bit fuzzy on the procedures, however, which may be simply because the procedures themselves were still fuzzy. Still, with an hour or so of Web searching, I was able to clear up some of the fuzziness and find useful Web links.

I wish did that for me--or did I miss something? When a story is about the online world, isn't that a pretty good sign that the online edition should provide Web resources as part of the coverage? The "shovelware" approach of just putting the print story online is very 1996.

Weiss says officials at the House of Representatives media office "decided that independent blogs do not fit their standards of 'media,' and passed their applications down the ladder a rung, to the convention staffs that handle credentials for student and weekly papers." But there's no pointer to such "staffs" in her story.

When presstime comes with some questions still unanswered, perhaps a news site could invite bloggers to fill in the blanks and provide links to the missing information. Fact-checking and filtering such contributions might take more staff time than simply digging up the information in-house, but an experiment could be interestng.

So, I gave it a try: I'm no political pundit and haven't been following the convention preparations story at all, but it took me less than an hour to think up a batch of hypothetical questions and even find some answers online.

First, for any impatient "cut to the chase" bloggers reading this, here's where to go to apply for convention press credentials (more on this below):
  • "Bloggers interested in applying for credentials should first apply to the Senate Periodical Press Gallery. The deadline for applications is May 28th, 2004. Bloggers that do not fit the Congressional Press Gallery criteria can also apply to the DNCC Press Gallery."
Background from the convention website:
  • The 2004 Democratic National Convention will be at the Fleet Center in Boston July 26 to July 29
  • Expected: 35,000 people, including "6,000 delegates; 15,000 members of the media, area dignitaries, diplomats, and foreign honored guests."
Questions that crossed my mind and a few links I found:
  • What about other "new media" like cable networks? (An earlier Globe story by Weiss deserves a link, which shows she's been on the story awhile.)
  • The story refers to "student press and weekly papers" as being "down a rung" from other media in the House of Representatives media gallery, so I went on a wild goose chase around that site. A link to the criteria might be nice, but the "periodicals" section of the gallery site was forwarded to an "under construction" page, and its officers page had only a contact phone number, not e-mail. That was frustrating...
  • A Boston04 convention site looked promising, but didn't answer my questions; it turns out that besides this "host city" site, there's a separate Democratic National Convention Committee site.
  • That's where I did find the convention media credentials contact addresses for different categories of reporters, although the page could be clearer about the distinctions between the "online daily writing press," "non-daily websites" and "bloggers." Each gets a separate entry and contact information, including the blogger passage quoted above. In any case, the deadline is approaching!
  • More questions:
    • How many bloggers stand to get credentials? Who will decide, and when?
    • What are the "number of credentials per organization" limits?
    • How will adding bloggers to the mix change things?
    • Who won't get credentials if bloggers do? (One less assistant sound technician for CNN, or one less columnist from a 50,000 circulation newspaper?)
Finally, here are links to folks and organizations the Globe story mentions, things that could go in a "related links" sidebar. (The Globe does include the names of some of these sites, but doesn't go the extra step to turn them into clickable links. A cynical blogger might suspect someone is worried that readers might not return after a sidetrip to what the story calls "subculture known as the blogosphere.")

8:00:38 PM    comment []

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