Bloggers As Story

Over the past week I’ve received email from two major American newspapers asking me to respond to a series of questions about how I plan to “blog the convention.” One of them was Newsday; the other, a major daily, asked not to be identified until after their story had run, which I will honour.

Here are the Newsday questions:

  1. What is your general strategy for covering the convention? Where and how will you spend your time?
  2. Is there a particular gap that you are trying to fill with your coverage?
  3. Please list five questions you would like to have answered in your coverage of the convention, in order of importance.
  4. Who is your readership?
  5. Will your blog be reviewed by anyone before it goes out? If so, how will that process work?
  6. What will you do at the convention that a mainstream journalist would not do?
  7. Are there any ethical rules that you plan to follow?
  8. How long will your dispatches be? How will you decide that?

Here are the questions from the other “major daily newspaper:”

  1. First, the basics: Names of all people from the blog who will be there; ages; occupations; hometowns.
  2. Describe your blog in 10 words or fewer.
  3. How do you plan to cover the convention? What kind of content can readers expect?
  4. Why should people read your coverage?
  5. What’s the biggest gap in convention coverage by mainstream media in prior election years?
  6. Moment/speaker/event you’re most looking forward to covering.
  7. Who did you support in the Democratic primary? (Or, if it’s not applicable, who do you plan to vote for in November?)

I think the questions are interesting in and of themselves: they give a little bit of insight as to how mainstream working journalists view the webloggers. Once both pieces have run, I’ll post my answers to their questions here.


Ken's picture
Ken on July 22, 2004 - 19:15 Permalink

What question would you pose to a mainstream reporter attending the DNC on how they plan to cover it?

I guess we’ll get details from you that are more intimate moments during the event, moments a well-worn journalist would be insensitive to. You don’t come with the fill-in-the-blanks approach they can’t avoid. You’re not in it for the ratings; or at least not to tell a story that will sell toilet paper, cars, and pop as the press corps is.

You also won’t have to edit to a few inches of text, or a few seconds of airtime.

So you have a broader range and more space to tell the story, and I look forward to seeing it.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on July 22, 2004 - 20:12 Permalink

I am most interested in reading about first-hand encounters with the security measures taken to protect delegates and reporters from a terrorist attack. I understand Orian aircraft and survelience helicopters will fill the skies, the hall will be full of guys in sunglasses talking to their cufflinks, and retinal scanning will be done on all attending.
Democrat politicing and hearing over and over that Kerry was in Vietnam and won purple hearts will be less interesting…

Lisa Howard's picture
Lisa Howard on July 22, 2004 - 20:24 Permalink

I think blogging sometimes benefits from not having a really formal hierarchy if such a thing can be said to apply to ‘real’ journalism. What I mean is that you don’t have an editor or a publisher and you don’t have advertisers. This is good because it means less overt ideology. I find most contemporary journalism suffers greatly because there’s currently too much business in the newspaper business. This means normal views tend to be under-represented. For instance, even though most people in Canada favour public health care, all I ever read about in the Globe or Post is that we should give private health care a chance. Of course, Fox news is also an extreme example of this phenomenon. They’ve rejigged the whole political landscape in the United States so that you can’t even say liberal without hearing them say ‘gliberal’ in the back of your head. But as far as I’m concerned this isn’t journalism, this is advocacy. Your blog is better coverage by this standard by virtue of being 100 percent Murdoch free (or Asper free as the case may be). And, because of this absence of hierarchy you also have the advantage of speed. You can file your story whenever you feel like it. You don’t have to wait until it’s been approved by the politburo, I mean, advertisers/editors/publisher. I’m sure real journalists will say that this means your copy is sloppier which may be true, in some cases). But overall, I’d say there are lots of advantages to this style of coverage, if only because it keeps the commercial journalists on their toes.

oliver's picture
oliver on July 24, 2004 - 23:44 Permalink

Peter, I’d be interested to read what you infer about newspaper journalists from the questions they asked you.

oliver's picture
oliver on July 25, 2004 - 20:02 Permalink

If I were writing a story about this, my angle would be something like “The DNC has discovered and recruited ‘bloggers,’ but it seems to have no idea what they are or how to choose among them. That might just be a good thing…”