Matt Stoller of MyDD.com and Tim Tagaris of the Lamont campaign, pictured.
A panel of political bloggers gathered Wednesday at Christ Church in Hartford to discuss what they do, why they do it, and who is reading.
The panel’s moderator, Tom Condon of the Hartford Courant said when blogs first started they were commenting on the news and not covering it, now bloggers are getting credentialed to cover news firsthand, like in the recent Scooter Libby trial.
Genghis Conn (Chris Bigelow) founder of Connecticut Local Politics, a non-partisan blog, said bloggers have always wanted to cover events. He said he worked hard to get credentialed to cover the Democratic State Convention last year and “it took a lot of doing..” He said its been difficult for blogs to get the same sort of respect mainstream news outlets receive. Click here to read his coverage of the event as a panelist.
Ned Lamont’s campaign for senate against U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman gave unprecedented access to bloggers and forced the mainstream media to read blogs, which gave the public a window into the campaign, Tim Tagaris, who ran the Lamont campaign web site said. The mainstream media, “had to read the blogs to do their jobs,” he said.
Caffeinated Geek Girl (Melissa Ryan) said bloggers would cover more original news but they have jobs, families and lives. “I would love to do it everyday, but that’s not my reality,” she said.
Matt Stoller of MyDD.com said the Scooter Libby trial is a good example of why there is a need for blogs. He said reporters have a hard time with institutional memory. In the Libby trial “they had a hard time understanding their own roll in the process,” and they didn’t have time to get the timeline rights and were “getting spun flacks” as a result, he said. He said editors and publishers need to understand that “if you’re not serving the public” with your reporting, “then you’re not doing your job.” He said bloggers want to have a conversation with the public.
WTIC talk show host and Courant columnist Colin McEnroe, said he uses blogs “for going outside conventional wisdom.” He said if anyone had said Lamont could beat Lieberman in a primary back in January last year they would have been “laughed out of the newsroom.” He said people who read blogs are looking for something that’s not filtered. Admittedly his Courant blog site “To Wit” is viewed as an extension of the Hartford Courant and therefore does not fall into this category of unfiltered news.
Who is reading blogs?
Bigelow said about 80 percent of his audience is men.
Where is the future of blogs going?
Stoller said the future is at the local level. It’s there that bloggers have “an enormous capacity to influence,” he said. Click here to read Chris Bowers piece on MyDD about how the political blogosphere is shifting away from top-down content toward a bottom-u audience generated model.
Bigelow agrees. Just last week he unveiled a citizen journalism project called, Town Blogs. The new site allows users to generate their own content about their local towns. The domains will be hosted by Connecticut Local Politics, which focuses on news about Connecticut’s Congressional delegation and state politics.
Bigelow said in 2005 he was searching for news on races for state representative and in several districts turned up with nothing on some of the candidates. “There was hardly any in depth reporting on any of the candidates in local races,” he said. To fill the void in the market he created a Wiki page that included all the candidates running for office in 2006.
Click here to check out Ken Krayeske’s coverage of the forum.