Monday, May 19, 2008

DemCon08 -- Problems with State Blogger Selection

Wow, who knew that it would be so difficult to invite state-level bloggers to cover the Democratic National Convention? It started out well, with the DNC deciding to credential a blog for each state and territory and grant them unprecedented convention access. That's a brilliant idea and one that I doubt anybody could complain about (except maybe the traditional media). But it looks like there wasn't enough thought put into the process. Whether this was out of a lack of foresight or something else, I'm inclined to think the former, but that doesn't mean that there weren't mistakes made and that some of the decisions made were very questionable at best.

There are two major complaints about the selections made: the lack of diversity and the apparent fact that some blogs were chosen over more qualified competitors based on questionable criteria or insider "vetoes."

The overwhelming majority of the 54 state/territory blogs are run by straight white males. While it is difficult to come up with an exact number, since many bloggers don't publicly identify themselves by demographic characteristics. Part of the problem, at least from what I can tell, is that bloggers who aren't straight white males are less likely to blog about state politics and are more likely to write about national and social issues. Since the people who chose the state blogs were interested in state politics as the topic of the blogs that were chosen, that presents a problem. I'm not sure, though, that this is a legitimate criteria for choosing blogs to attend the national convention. Is the blogger coverage meant to be about state politics, or is it meant to be coverage of national politics meant to be delivered to local audiences? Seems to me it's the latter, which means that this criteria doesn't make a lot of sense. I'd also suggest that, much like Florida did with its delegate selection plan, an affirmative action plan would've been a good idea. Hopefully, most of this will be remedied in the general blogger pool selections that are forthcoming. If not, then the Democratic Party will have created a much larger problem with this process than it was seeking to solve by granting access. Don't forget we're talking about bloggers, people who write about the things that piss them off, particularly when it appears to be based on identity (or based on ignoring people's identity.

More on this topic:

The Francis L. Holland Blog -- Jim Crow Blogging at the Democratic National Convention?

African American Political Pundit -- Black bloggers to the back of the bus!

Pam's House Blend -- Democratic National Convention state blog selection dustup.

In the other instance, a number of high quality blogs -- Cotton Mouth, Left in Alabama, the Albany Project, BlueJersey, Michigan Liberal -- failed to get the invite while other blogs, rightly or wrongly, were chosen despite being nonpartisan, nonactivist, nonprogressive or owned by the media. Some accounts suggest local Democratic Party officials vetoed some of these (and maybe others) and chose blogs that gave them more favorable coverage instead. I don't know about that one way or the other, but if it did happen, it's certainly wrong. Who gives Democrats worse coverage than Fox News? They get a credential. But blogs written by diehard progressive Democrats don't? If we want our blogs to be run top-down, without criticism, then we'll end up with the nonexistent Republican blogosphere. We don't want that, however, because it is useless. The whole reason that the Democratic/progressive blogs are so successful is because they have freedom to tell the truth. Refusing to give credentials to blogs that tell the truth is a bad idea and a bad precedent. Hopefully these mistakes will be remedied relatively quickly. I understand that seating/space is limited, but there are a few of these blogs (at least those noted above) that should be not only invited to the convention, but given full floor access as well. We should be rewarding bloggers who are doing the job of both the traditional media and of the political party itself, when it comes to helping get out the party message to new audiences and helping get candidates election.

More on this topic:

Cotton Mouth -- Cotton Mouth Is Not Going To The Democratic Convention (And Why).

Open Left -- Clamping Down on Blog Dissent: More Evidence of State Blogger Problems.

Open Left -- State Parties Nixing State Blogs from the Convention?

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