Sunday, June 18, 2006

Post-Summit Thoughts

Michael Shear
The featured speaker after lunch, the Washington Post’s Michael Shear, used a line about another bloggers convention, comparing that bloggers’ get-together to a Star Trek convention. The joke drew mild laughter, no hooting. His audience of mostly bloggers treated Shear with respect, during his prepared spiel, and the question-and-answer period that followed.

If I had been in Shear’s shoes, going up there, I may have thought that Star Trek crack would be funny, too. However, after sitting in on the stimulating panel on Blogging and Journalism, which he did, too, I would hope that I would have then thought to edit it out.


Because during that panel discussion at the Sorensen Institute’s Blog Summit, the people who filled up that room with their opinions did not at all resemble a pack of funny hat-wearing eccentrics who live in a fantasy world. No, what I heard was a well-informed discussion on the methods, motives and ethics that political bloggers are developing on the fly, as you read this.

I went up to Charlotteville not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know any of the other bloggers, except by their blogs. I had not met the people responsible for inviting me to sit on the panel mentioned above.

On the other hand, there was a handful of bloggers I wanted to make a point of meeting, due to my admiration for their work. Yes, I'm happy to have spoken, however briefly, with Waldo Jaquith, Conaway Haskins, Frosty Landon, Vivian Paige and Kenton Ngo.

The list of people I met and spoke with briefly, that I’d never heard of before is much longer. And, the thoughtful comments I heard in discussions, from an even longer list of people I didn‘t speak with at all, were impressive.

It seemed like about 125, to 150 people in all, counting politicians, etc, were there. I don’t know how typical yesterday’s group was of political bloggers. Whatever process put them in stately Saunders Hall on the University of Virginia campus, it delivered a hall full of smart cookies to hear Shear’s views on the differences between journalism and blogging.

Moreover, the group seemed like it was made up mostly of people I’d like to get to know better.

What did Shear say? He basically scolded bloggers for rushing to post, for not fact-checking, for sometimes posting deliberate lies. Of course the bloggers, politely, pointed out that the pros have been caught doing the same thing, recently and often. Shear shrugged and countered that the press establishment does it less. It does have standards that are on the record.

Shear stressed that bloggers who want to be taken seriously need to develop standards, too.

And, I agree with him about that. I’d like to do what I can to help out with such an undertaking. This convention was worthwhile and uplifting. I expect to see some changes come down the pike, because of it, too. In closing, I want to publicly thank the Summit’s planners for including me in the group.

Links to other stories about the Blog Summit:

Bob Lewis of The Daily Progress
Waldo Jaquith
Vivian J. Paige Day One, Day Two.
Blue Dog
CatHouse Chat
Beltway Blogroll
Photo: SLANT

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