DNC: Bloggers unite in ‘Big Tent’
August 26, 2008
Tucked a few blocks away from the Pepsi Center where hordes of mainstream media are reporting on the Democratic National Convention sits a haven for bloggers representing what some are calling the “new media.”
The tent at the corner of Wynkoop and 16th Street is home to 500 bloggers from more than 40 states during the DNC.
Inside the large tent there are three levels. The main level is devoted to members of the new media like Ali Savine, national program director for the center for independent media.
Savine’s organization is one of the sponsors of the Big Tent and also has 10 to 15 reporters covering the DNC.
Savine believes the rise of the bloggers at the convention stems from frustration with the conventional media not asking the hard questions, especially in light of the Iraq war.
“(Bloggers) are willing to speak the truth to power,” Savine said. “I think they also see themselves as on the outside looking in, willing to throw stones and not afraid to challenge the status quo.”
More than 5,000 bloggers applied to gain access to the Big Tent. Of the 500 that did receive credentials many are literally looking in from the outside. Many don’t have access to the Pepsi Center where much of the “action” happens at the DNC.
One of the exceptions is Dave Maass, a reporter for the Santa Fe Reporter, a weekly paper and a blogger for http://www.swingstateofmind.com.
Maass wears the hats of both a traditional journalist, with DNC credentials and access to the Pepsi Center, and a new media blogger with Big Tent credentials.
However Maass admits the line between new and conventional media is blurring more and more with new technology.
“No one knows exactly where this is going or what’s going to work,” said Maass of the roomful of bloggers. “We try different things and have different levels of success.”
One the primary differences between the bloggers and traditional journalists according to Savine is the style of writing.
“They tell a story the way you would tell a friend rather than AP style,” Savine said. “The new media admits everyone has bias and has a voice in their writing.”
Alliance for Sustainable Colorado Project director Aaron Nelson whose organization helped sponsor the tent, said the center was designed for new media who don’t have access to a lot of the main events.
In an effort to bring some of the discussion to them Nelson helped establish the Digg stage that features such speakers as Dan Rather, who addressed bloggers on Tuesday.
Nelson loves to see the interaction between journalists and new media bloggers that the tent is creating.
“With media covering media it creates some fantastic dialog,” Nelson said. “It is another way to engage the public in the communication process.”