From Boston

This is Dave from Boston, Monday morning. I’m waiting for the press office to open so I can get credentials. I still haven’t found anywhere to get online, but I DID get something to eat this morning. I didn’t eat all day yesterday. (My wife won’t believe that.) I tried a couple of Starbucks, but for some reason I haven’t been able to use my new T-Mobile HotSpot account… But I am confident that I will be able to get online, check my e-mail and start finding out what is going on in the world. A reporter here assures me no cities have been nuked or anything.

Last night I went to a blogger gathering in a bar in Cambridge. I met several of the bloggers we all read. Like Jeralyn from TalkLeft, Matthew Gross, Jesse and Ezra from Pandagon and Tom Burka from Opinions You Should Have and American Street.

On the subway coming back from last night’s blogger gathering one station was full of people with signs saying “You Can’t be Catholic and Pro-Abortion.” I’m wondering where the “and Pro-War” or “Pro-Death Penalty” signs were.

So at the blogger gathering there were reporters who were there to interview the bloggers! I was told the bloggers at the convention is a BIG story. I’m told that there is even a special section of the convention where bloggers have seats assigned and CNN is maybe going to set up a camera to televise us while we “blog.” (Talk about not “getting it.”)

So there I am the night before the convention even starts and I have reporters asking me the question, “What is the difference between blogging and journalism?” And “Will all this attention co-opt the bloggers?” I’m thinking, “What attention?” but I’m getting signs of what is likely to come.

So here is how I answered. I compared blogging and journalism to the music industry. You’ve got a lot of great music out there, but you’ve got a huge commercial music industry. And you can be in Santa Cruz and turn on KPIG and hear great music in no format, or you can drive over to Silicon Valley and go through Clear Channel station after Clear Channel station and hear the same old commercial crap – “Every Breath You Take” is a great song, but not when it is on every station at the same time – and the reason it’s on the air is because the corporations are paying for it to be there… They have carefully prepared playlists designed to maximize the marginal return… Blogging is “keeping it real.”

There seems to be something “stale” about much of the professional punditry. For one thing, so many of the pros have been doing it for soooooo long…. But I think something happens when you are hired and start getting paid and start HAVING to write and produce and create and do it on a schedule. I think when you’re in that situation you moderate what you write. AND the publication has its own requirements so your editors might moderate what you write for you. I’m talking about punditry, not reporting here – reporting is an entirely different story and we talk in the “blogosphere” about what is wrong with the So-Called-Liberal-Media so I won’t here today.

I gave an example of a difference between blogging and professional journalism. I sent an e-mail to RSVP that I was going to attend an event this week, and I got a response that said only “I put you down!” So if he was going to put me down I was going to send a reply “I fart in your general direction.” And I said I was going to blog that. So the reporter said, “I can’t put that in my article” and I said “That is preciselym the difference.” (Actually after no food and two beers I said something less coherent but you get the idea.)

Blogging is regular people voicing what regular people are feeling, and doing it because they feel they have to say this because no one else is. There are plenty of bloggers who “quit” and the two weeks later they’re back. It’s because you just have to say it. And the blogging that has made a difference – like bringing Howard Dean to the forefront of public attention back in 2003, or sticking on the Trent Lott story because the press wouldn’t – was written because people were PISSED OFF and were going to write about it, and yell, and try to bring attention to stories that NEEDED attention.

And finally, for those who follow MY ISSUE here at Seeing the Forest, if you haven’t seen the big NY Times Magazine article about changing the nature of politics on the “Progressive” side, please go read it. It is important, it is what I have been talking about for three years, finally breaking into the “mainstream” so it will be talked about a lot this week. The story is online online here.