Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bloggers -- Punks Turning Powerful

If there are data strongly suggesting that blogs did, in fact, have a strong impact in national and state elections over the past several years, I have not seen them. Certainly the consensus is that they did, and a few measurable indicators, such as amounts blogs raised for candidates, support that.

However a funny thing happened on the way to legitimacy. Actually several did, including:
  • Newspapers suddenly switched from unsuccessfully deriding bloggers into adding their own blogs; they ceded the battle and dramatically increased credibility.
  • While a preponderance of blogs still are of the ain't-my-kids-cute or my-daffy-day variety, political, news and citizen reporter sites grow stronger, more read and more sophisticated, even if their number do not grow quickly.
  • Many urban and suburban dailies are slashing staff, driving their prime advertiser-attractive readers to seek additional or alternative news sources, including blogs.
  • Politicians and government agencies increasingly recognize some bloggers as indistinguishable legally from traditional reporters.
  • The public perception of bloggers is shifting from volatile ranters to volatile ranters with a healthy smattering of solid, electronic journalists.

Rapping in Wang Land

In a very intense one-day News(s) England Revolution conference at UMASS-Lowell, our local kind-of reputable bloggers and a mix of scholars, professional journalists and observers huddled, muttered and ranted about their topics of interest -- what they did, what worked, what failed and what's next. Check today's posts here, at Left in Lowell, or at Left Ahead! for short live blogs. Other comments from our fellow travelers will certainly appear.

It looks to be maybe 100 or more of us there today. I was surprised how much of the New England News Forum event had blogger content, both subject and participants.

Many of us came for personal contact with each other, but more for the technology and techniques exchange and education. Some was humbling, as in the session with co-leader Steve Garfield of Rocketboom and his eponymous sites. He had his latest Nokia toy -- HD video camera in a cell phone -- witch which he captured the session. We were not worthy.

Three of us just started our audio podcasts, based online at Left Ahead! It was cruel of him, but understandable to ask me during the roundtable self-introductions if that was all. Why weren't we video blogging? How 2005 we are, he might have added.

At least he's such a slug that he didn't post from Lowell. His sites don't have today's videos up yet. They are less powerful in his phone than on the Net.

High in Lowell

We never miss the Lowell Folk Festival in late July if we can be around. We've been doing that for 15 or may 18 years Otherwise, we don't spend a lot of time in that historic berg. Although, we did trot up specially for a Marcia Ball fund raiser.

I did first meet some of our loudest, surest bloggers, like Lynne and Susan, at a 99 there to plan the BlogLeft gathering. Then, we swarmed there for the lieutenant-governor debate. You can search for either of those here or grab the live chatter at BMG. It was fun and it was Lowell-based.

Six Times Relevant

Not only is U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan's corpse not yet stiff or cold, he's not about to die. He just shifted in his bed, away from the side marked CONGRESS. He has announced only that he's quitting as of May 9th.

Meanwhile, seven candidates to be candidates have announced as much as one can for a non-vacant seat. That may not be surprising, but it is that six of the seven trotted to the conference to present themselves and their positions to the bloggers assembled, plus the smattering of professional media.

That is not purely an expression of rising blogger clout. Much of that is the same quiet force that assembled the would-be lieutenant governor gathering last year. The new personal blogger, long-term registrar of deeds, and Lowell Democratic committee chair Dick Howe rakes 'em in. Dick asks and they come.

See earlier coverage for the rush on the discussion and presentation by the candidates today. Look for catty commentary, minor insights, and more on the candidates in future posts.

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sco said...

Hey, some of us like to combine our "ain't-my-kids-cute" blog with our political blog! :P

Steve Garfield said...

Nice meeting you at the forum.

Just to be clear, when you said you had a podcast, I was just clarifying if it was audio or video, since a podcast can be either.

Not everyone has to to do video, just be aware that it's not as hard as many portray it to be.

Here's my video from today:

New England News Forum.

Hope to see you at a Boston Media Makers meeting.

massmarrier said...

Well, nobody gasps when you pull back the blanket. Your kid actually is cute.

massmarrier said...

Steve, we've only met at conferences. You need to know that several of us -- Susan, Lynne, Ryan, Andy and I among them -- are in a puerile clump. We've been know to rag on each other and just be raw.

For anyone checking in, truth of it is, Steve is far ahead of me in this and is embarrassingly sharp in what he shows, how he edits it, and how he understands what video can do to "add value," as the hacks are so fond of phrasing it.

My comment was a form of praise from my demented mind and mouth. The three of us at Left Ahead! don't have a decent video camera and may or may not end up going that way. If we do, Steve's stuff will definitely be the model.

Meanwhile our audiences will have to go with medium hot and read the words.