|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The Year of the Political Blogger Has Arrived
Beginning Monday, hundreds of bloggers will descend on Denver to see Barack Obama accept his party’s nomination. Next week, hundreds more will travel to St. Paul to witness John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. But now these online partisans, many of whom are self-financed, must contend with all the logistical and financial hurdles just to get there — not to mention the party politics happening behind the scenes.
This year, both parties understand the need to have greater numbers of bloggers attend. While many Americans may watch only prime-time television broadcasts of the convention speeches, party officials also recognize the ability of bloggers to deliver minute-by-minute coverage of each day’s events to a niche online audience.
“The goal is to bring down the walls of the convention and invite in an audience that’s as large as possible,” said Aaron Myers, the director of online communications for the Democratic National Convention Committee. “Credentialing more bloggers opens up all sorts of new audiences.”
But some bloggers see the procurement of credentials as less of a privilege and more of a right, in recognition of their grass-roots influence. “This is stuff we deserve — we helped the party get people elected,” said Matt Stoller, a political consultant and a contributor to the blog Open Left, who worked as the volunteer in charge of getting credentials for bloggers at the Democratic convention four years ago. “Maybe in 2004 it was about being accommodating and innovative — but this time around there’s a real fight for power in the party.”
“It’s unprecedented access for bloggers, yes, but it’s certainly not equal access,” said Ms. Spaulding, who learned last week that Pam’s House Blend would receive two extra credentials. “What, pray tell, is the big secret?”
The annoyance felt by many bloggers is familiar to those who previously attended conventions as correspondents for smaller print publications. “This is very reminiscent of being at the low end of the totem pole,” said Micah Sifry, the co-founder of the group blog Techpresident.com, who formerly wrote for The Nation magazine and attended his first convention in 1984. “They can’t buy a sky box, they’re scrambling.”
One perk that bloggers will have access to in Denver is the Big Tent, an 8,000-square-foot two-story structure adjacent to where the convention is being held. For a $100 entrance fee, 400 credentialed bloggers will be allowed to enter the air-conditioned space, hosted by a coalition of progressive blogs and organizations and sponsored by the Web sites Google and Digg, where they can eat meals and find work spaces with Wi-Fi.
“I’m telling everyone to meet me at the Big Tent,” said Fred Gooltz, 30, an online strategist with Advomatic, a Web development and strategy firm. “That’s where I’ll be meeting everyone else who’s like me, folks that I’ve only met online or blogged and e-mailed with.” Mr. Gooltz sees the $100 fee as a bargain, especially since he would rather network “with movementarians, who see themselves as a progressive movement, separate from the Democratic Party hierarchy.”
For bloggers who do not wield as much influence as Mr. Moulitsas, paying for the trip to Denver meant appealing directly to their readers for contributions — an uneasy bargain for many writers who value their independence.