As an exercise in seeing how stories like this get edited down from the original interview (which in this case was conducted by email), here’s a comparison of what I said vs. what got printed.
Note that I’m not presented this as some sort of “hey, they misrepresented me!” complaint, simply as an demonstration of how interviews, of necessity, get distilled down into print. I’ve boldfaced the sections of my original responses that made it into print.
In response to the question “What is your general strategy for covering the convention? Where and how will you spend your time?” I wrote:
I’m interested in four things:
(a) How the convention is covered by the “mainstream” media. I’d like to get a sense of, and report about, the mechanisms “behind the curtain,” and how they relate to what I hear/read/watch at home.
(b) The convention as a giant piece of political theatre. As a Canadian, I am fascinated with the pomp and circumstance of U.S. politics (it makes what we do here in Canada appear very, very sedate by comparison). I got a taste of this when I blogged the New Hampshire primary in January; I’m interested in seeing more, and trying to get a handle of how the theatricality relates to the real world of politics, elections, and public policy.
(c) As a dual-national (I was born in New York state in 1966, but have been a Canadian resident most of my life), I’m entitled to vote in the election. But, as a Canadian, my only real exposure to the election, my only mechanism for learning about candidates and policy, is through the media. So I have a very real, if selfish interest in the convention as a sort of extended, full-on civics course.
(d) As a weblogger, I’m interesting in learning more about how webloggers can provide an alternative, supplementary view of events like the convention. I truly don’t know whether it will be useful (lots of diverse views from lots of diverse perspectives) or whether it all boils down to rather mundane amateur journalism without the editorial oversight and ethical guidelines of “real” reporting. And the best way of finding that out is to jump right in a do it.
Put that all together, and perhaps you don’t get a “general strategy,” but you get some idea of what I’ll be there to do.
The responses to that question weren’t included in the article, although some of my response was incorporated into the answer to the next question.
In response to the question “Is there a particular gap that you are trying to fill with your coverage?” I responded:
No. “I’m there mostly as a producer, not as a consumer. In other words, I’m filling in my own gaps (as above); whether or not this of use or interest to others, while not insignificant, isn’t front and center, and it’s not how I’m making plans.
And the article printed:
I’m filling in my own gaps. I am interested in how the convention is covered by the media; the convention as a giant piece of political theater; and I have a very real, if selfish, interest in the convention as a sort of extended, full-on civics course. Whether this is of use or interest to others, while not insignificant, isn’t front and center, and it’s not how I’m making plans.
They combined my answer to their first question with my answer to the second, but they didn’t print what I thought was the most important point: I’m there mostly as a producer, not as a consumer.
For the question “What will you do at the convention that a mainstream journalist would not do?” I responded:
1. I won’t get paid.
2. I won’t have deadlines.
3. I won’t have anyone to tell me what/where/when to cover.
4. I won’t be responsible to anyone but myself.
As such, I’ll be able to write as much or as little as I like, about whatever I like, whenever I like.
And the article printed that verbatim.
Finally, I responded to the question “Are there any ethical rules that you plan to follow?” simply “Only to tell the truth.” They printed this verbatim as well.
There were several other questions that weren’t printed in the article.
For the question “Please list five questions you would like to have answered in your coverage of the convention, in order of importance.” I [honestly] responded:
I have absolutely no idea.
To the question “Who is your readership?” I responded:
I have just a little more than absolutely no idea.
Many readers are people who live within a mile or two of my house, here in rural Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. If I have a “responsibility” to any chunk of my readership, it’s probably to them — a motely collection of friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. So on one level I’m simply a sort of “personal reporter” for my local community.
I’m also a de facto participant in what’s loosely known as the “blogosphere” — what I write will get syndicated and linked and otherwise worked into the web. So I feel, to some extent, like I’m working together with a decentralized group of other bloggers (none of whom I actually know) on a sort of “group project” to cover the convention.
For the question “Will your blog be reviewed by anyone before it goes out? If so, how will that process work?” I answered:
No review at all. I generally post live immediately after writing, then re-read and make spelling, grammar and factual edits as required. Thus I’m sort of editing “live” in front of the audience, if you will.
And finally, to the question “How long will your dispatches be? How will you decide that?” I responded:
No idea at that point; the digital page has no boundaries, so I don’t really need to figure that out.