As an avid follower of media issues, I have been mulling over the coverage given to these pioneering bloggers who have been officially invited to "cover" the Democratic and Republican conventions in the United States. Relatively speaking, at the Democratic convention, it was an incredibly small group in comparison to the army of "traditional" media types. 37 or so bloggers given official accreditation versus 15000 newspaper, radio, and tv journalist with passes around their necks.
I would imagine the Howard Dean campaign had a lot to do with bloggers finally turning up on the radarscope of mainstream politics. But, there have been other factors as well. Bloggers have been, for example, given credit in getting the traditional media to cover important happenings that weren't covered at first.
The bloggers at the Democratic convention experienced a huge glitch right at the start - their Internet connection would not work. This was soon solved but then there apparently were only 12 chairs (and I presume desks?) for 30 odd people.
But, having ironed most of the issues, bloggers, as they are prone to do, started blogging. There was a fair amount of pressure, both self applied and also external. Russell Beatie, a guy who gets some attention in the blogosphere, even wrote a post telling them not to "fuck up".
So how did they do? There has been some expressions of disappointment. But, I think we, sometimes, these days forget that most bloggers aren't journalists and don't see themselves as such. I think Michael Feldman nails it on his blog:
Bloggers are different. We specialize in Perspective. At an event like the convention, we take our readers to the site of the news, give them a texture and context to help them digest the news, let them feel what it is like to be there.
We will never replace conventional media, nor should we want to. We are not competing with them, we are augmenting them. If we find a way to work together we can make the American people the best informed in the world.
I think bloggers working together with journalists can make the entire planet better informed and, more importantly, motivated to act. Journalist bring the research skills, temperament, and budget. Bloggers bring raw passion, strong opinions, and more loyal readers.
So, also, what I also think has incredible potential is people who are both trained / experienced journalists and bloggers. The pioneers here are people like Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall in the US and people like Andrew Coyne, Paul Wells, and Jay Currie in Canada.