Bloggers want respect at ’08 convention |

Bloggers want respect at ’08 convention

George Merritt
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Joe Shea has run an online-only newspaper since 1995, and he came to Denver Tuesday looking for a fight.

His attempts to gain media credentials for major events have been thwarted for more than a decade over questions about circulation, advertising and full-time employees, and he was determined to change his luck at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

So when Leah Daughtry, the convention’s chief executive officer, asked for questions from more than 400 journalists who came to Denver to prepare for the convention, Shea jumped at the chance.

“Reach out to this community of Internet journalists,” said Shea, editor of The American Reporter. “Give us equal status with the broadcast and print media which you have been allied with for so very long.”

Daughtry’s answer was simple: “Thank you. We agree.”

While bloggers and other online news providers had a presence at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston, “the blogoshere” is gearing up for a more pronounced presence when the party meets in Denver in August.

And the competition for a limited number of press passes figures to be fierce ” so fierce that in his plea Shea noted, “Many of us are very strong Democrats and Democratic supporters.”

Daughtry said Democrats recognize that bloggers will cover the event “in groundbreaking ways.”

“With the explosion of the blogging community and the explosion of technology, the blogging community has become a more and more critically important part of how news reaches the American people,” she said. “What we really want to do is produce a convention that will introduce us in a new way to the American people.”

Democrats have already laid out plans to give at least 56 online journalists access inside the convention, including one from every state and territory and Washington, D.C. Officials said they will include more bloggers, but they have not said how many.

That didn’t settle the nerves of the 30 bloggers who peppered the convention committee’s online communications director, Jason Rosenberg, with questions about what kind of access they would have.

Rosenberg said some of the credentials will go to the blogs with the most reach.

“There are 120 million blogs out there,” he said. “Not everyone is going to get credentialed.”

To help accommodate bloggers who don’t get credentials, the advocacy group Progress Now plans a “blogger convention” just across the street from the main event.

“We have a building,” said Jen Caltrider of Progress Now. “We are going to turn it into blogger central.”

Rosenberg assured the bloggers they’re important to him and the party.

“They hired me for this. This wasn’t something I just volunteered for,” he said.

Joan McCarter of the Daily Kos blog said she is excited about the level of access the Democrats say bloggers will get, but she was concerned to see several traditional newspapers that also maintain blogs asking about blogging credentials.

“I would like to see the traditional media stick to the traditional media credentials,” she said.

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