Blogging The Conventions

by Jonah Goldberg

Some Bloggers, most notably Patrick Ruffini, are keen on making the 2004 the first “blogged” convention (Yes, I learned this through Instapundit). I think it’s a perfectly fine idea, and the Corner will surely be all over both conventions. But, let me be the first to predict it will be a massive headache and not nearly the unmitigated success it will be billed as in the days and weeks leading to the conventions.

First of all, most people don’t remember — or care — but the 2000 Democratic and Republican conventions was supposed to be the breakthrough events for web media. Voter.com (more properly named Voter.crap) spent millions on both conventions. Pseudo.com, the internet “televsion network,” spent many more millions (Full disclosure: I had minimal relationships with both outfits — though I was always outspoken in my skepticism). You could “speak out” on the web in real time. You could see the convention from a zillion different angles via webcam. The so-called media monopoly was going to be shattered. The problem is that nobody watched or cared, and not just because webcams are worse than television “cams.”

Second, I predict thousands of Bloggers will try to get convention press passes and maybe a dozen will get them. This will in turn result in the Blogosphere claiming bias against them in much the same way Ralph Nader claims bias against the presidential debate commission. Depending on how shrill these complaints get, most of the Bloggers could be seen as whiners and oddballs, not serious journalists.

Or, the bloggers will be wildly over-hyped in advance of the conventions because the media invariably hypes media stories at the conventions, mostly out of lack of interesting material to report on. This in turn will build up the inevitable debunking stories.

But most important, while the conventions will be billed as the moment when Bloggers “come of age” — just as they said about web news in 2000 — the conventions wll highlight the handicaps of the Bloggers — again, just as the 2000 conventions did for Voter.crap etc. You see, as is already the case, there will be vastly more commentary than there will be news. As it is, most reporters and pundits strain to find something, anything, worth talking about at the conventions. And these people have contacts, experience, etc. Adding a bunch of people who can’t get interviews, don’t know what they’re doing etc. won’t be a coup for the bloggers. Of course, a couple people will do great things, but thousands won’t — and it will show. Save this prediction.

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