Monday, May 23, 2005

Gypsies in the palace -- A few words on Nick, T-Paw and Bloggergate

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:16 AM |  

Being a little too mainstream and still searching for that elusive blogosphere persona that drives a lot of traffic, I was not among those who attended what has become a "Bloggergate" reception for local bloggers at the Governor’s mansion. The criticism of the event reminds me of watching the Twins play -- critics had the bases loaded, and they couldn’t score.

Let’s be honest -- it was a partisan event. True enough, it was recognition of the new media; it is also true of the bloggers in attendance, most have on more than one occasion been critical of the governor on any number of policy issues. Nonetheless, this was a group predisposed to support Pawlenty. The gathering was in the tradition of wink, wink, nod, nod, thanks for the support access to power that goes on all the time on both sides of the political aisle.

And if we’re really going to be honest, the post-reception posts that appeared for the most part did provide more than a little “fawning” over T-Paw and his political potential. They were a little self-congratulatory and zealous about the power of the new media (which as unseemly as critics might have found it, I think is well-deserved if overstated).

So with a lot to shoot at, how did the critics blow it so badly?

The misnomered radio “personality” Nick Coleman stuck out by swinging wildly at the bloggers with his usual mix of ad hominem attack and homosexual innuendo. The former is always professionally embarrassing, the latter always offensive. Nick made his usual charge that blogs lack of journalistic impartiality, which is a ludicrous comment coming from someone speaking on Air America whose family has a historical and present influence in Democrat politics. Bias isn’t bad, Nick -- pretending you don’t have one is.

With knees jerking wildly, he assailed the obvious and missed the elements of the reception and subsequent posting that revealed two major blogosphere flaws.

First, bloggers (and I include myself here) are for the most part new to this kind of exposure to power. Aside from political partisanship in the post-reception posts, they had a “gee wiz” quality that betrayed a kind of awe that a seasoned journalist may feel, but suppresses in order to observe and convey what’s going on around him. My criticism of the posts is that they didn’t provide any meaningful insights into the governor garnered by the bloggers actually being in the governor's mansion. That, not partisanship, is indicative that bloogers have a ways to go in the quest to become citizen “journalists.”

Second, the post-reception posts were more than a little “inside baseball.” As the blogosphere grows, more and more people are reading blogs for information, not camaraderie. Again, the posts read more like a letter to mom than an journalistic analysis of an event.

The best post on the event, and a very good post, comes the Atomizer at Fraters Libertas. He pokes a little fun at both bloggers and critics and portrays the event and the criticism for what is was -- much ado about nothing. He displays a bit of professionalism, insight and style that Nick could learn from.