Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lt. Gov. Debate After the Hail

Coming back from Lowell after the Lt. Gov. debate this afternoon -- Chris of LeftCenterLeft and I took the commuter rail up and down, we got to muse on the hours and events. Then on the way home, the gentle version of a Biblical retribution occurred. Three minutes of hail stung my skin and dampened my laptop carrying case.

That and driving the Boston Globe blogger (Lisa Wangsness) from the room were our only downsides. In the main, we decided that a heavily live blogged debate with questions from moderators, bloggers and the online audience is a good model. We'd do it again.

The hail was not very big and Lisa seemed to leave for some quiet so that she could do her job and not because she hated us. In fact, her post on the Political Intelligence Globe blog promises coverage in Monday's paper.

Chris kept a running commentary. Most of us kept primarily to the BlueMassGroup.

We could easily become too omphaloskeptical -- blogging about the Globe blogger who blogged about us blogging the debate, her and each other. It could be come very recursive.

Instead, we can look to duplicate and build on what worked. Lots of key players combined in this:

Lynne and Susan each gives the other credit for driving the debate under the aegis of our BlogLeft group.
The Greater Lowell Area Democrats and Lowell Democratic City Committee cosponsored and enabled the function. The Lowell Senior Center with its wireless hotspots was to be the site, but somehow no one forecast the floods and the center's use as a shelter. Nevertheless, the Lowell Telecommunications Center unhesitatingly stepped in with facilities and staff to broadcast it live and stream it -- and put up both the audience and a cage full of 10 bloggers.

It worked, just like we'd been doing this for a long time. We and other blogger groups should be able to reproduce this model easily.

We were a bit rowdy. It's good that they put us behind the shelving with the Blogger Area! signs. That was warning enough for most people.

In fact, most of us knew each other casually. We read each others' stuff all the time, comment on blogs, swap email, cross-post, and on rare occasions -- such as last December's BlogLeft Gathering. A few of us were glad to put face to name and legal name with blog title.

Yet a great feature was how the questions formed and flowed. SCO solicited and compiled questions. David from BlueMassGroup was one of two who questioned the candidates. SCO continued to gather questions from online readers who were reading the live blog entries and watching the stream or TV. A stalwart lad eager grabbed an index card or two with questions and shuttled them down to David. It was like the old newspaper days again.

Speaking of, Lisa was clearly to young to know or have experienced those old times. I am not. I remember when bullpens of writers and editors filled rooms and yelled to each other, copyboys and no one in particular. Everybody smoked cigarettes and drank coffee, and there always seemed to be a drawer stocked with Scotch or bourbon.

We were a bit much and Lisa stuck out our chatter and joking a long time. Good on her.

In retrospect, the questions worked very well. These seemed beefier and certainly more specific than the typical broadcast and print reporter/columist ones that dominate such debates.

Now tomorrow or Tuesday, I suspect we'll all go through everyone's comments on the live blog and see if we were as wise or clever as we supposed -- probably not. The real question is whether we added real value beyond those good candidate topics.

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Anonymous said...

Excellent job on the live-blog, Mike! Well done.

massmarrier said...

Come on. You were the talking head -- hot stuff, not even any stuttering. You seemed to be enjoying it too. Thanks for hosting the live blogging.