July 30, 2004

Semantically Yours...

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the new number one google search result for the word "Credentialed".

surprised? not me.

The thing that bothers me most about the credentialing of bloggers for this past week's democratic convention is how the bloggers willingly participated in a PR mega-event that had been brainstormed about, strategized about, met endlessly about, project managed about, account managed about, and congratulated over by what has to be hundreds of PR flacks across multiple organizations who really don't give a rats ass whether bloggers covered the event or not.

This was a corporate event and credentials were bestowed like tickets for a ski-doo raffle, finalists made up of the lucky few who stuck business cards with the right combination of words on them (i.e., no troublemakers, left-leaning) in the bowl on the trade show floor. Ooooo--maybe I'll win.

Yah, if life, business, and government worked that way.

It doesn't. That's why we came here--remember?

I will state my personal position again: Anything that seeks to professionalize weblogging, I am against. It's power depends upon its non-professionalization. Stop letting them bully you into stepping and fetching it, guys. And yes, guys, I'm talking to you specifically, because you continue to bite every time.

I wish I lived closer to a convention. I would not be credentialed, but I would cover it, on the street, in the 'tweens, from a boulder on the grassy knoll. Covering politics is talking to people, not following the cued plan of PR pros. I'd go wherever they weren't--anywhere they weren't.

Here is a conversation I imagine has already taken place between public affairs PR flacks involved in the event, the Kerry launch at the DNC convention.

PR Flack 1 (PRf1): Credentialing bloggers--great idea wasn't it?

PR Flack 2 (PRf2): "Sure was. I don't know how the whole thing got started, but it was the best thing we coulda done to show how the 'voice of the people' counts... That 'be not afraid' of john q. public...' Embrace him even!

PRf1: Yeah, without letting them get close enough to cause any trouble!

PRf2: Hey, those guys don't leave their laptops for a second--It was easy to keep em penned up. Can you believe they didn't riot when we saw how far away they were? No way they could hear or see anything--making like it was their war room up there--haaaa!

PRf1: Did you see them typing the whole fucking time?

PRf2: No shit--what the hell were they writing about? Carol King--how many words can you write about her -- she sang for fifteen minutes.

PRf1: I saw this one blog guy get his credentials--his eyes were so big you think I he just got the Nobel Peace Prize.

PRf2: sheeeeeesh!

PRf1: I thought they'd be all over the balloon mishap--Jesus the stage manager that had Mischer that close to Blizer is so canned.

PRf2: The bloggers were all gone by then--there were like two of them up there. I guess they got the picture that the terrorists weren't coming--"Nothing to see here boys, go ahead home..."

PRf1: hhhhaaa! Yah, "The real journalists have it covered--why don't you all go buy some ink cartridges for your printers!"

PRf2: Now the Bush team is all about how to leverage the webloggers.

PRf1: Yeah, well, give 'em Bush Cheney signs and tell them to get drunk like everyone else.

PRf2: I think if you give 'em fancy lanyards they're yours for life.

PRf1: blahahaha!

(and on and on).

Are we worthy of the jeering? Naw. Doesn't matter really. But we are responsible for not letting ourselves be manipulated in the name of blogging. At least I think so.

So you credentialed few--cover the next convention somewhere where it's not expected, scripted even. And if you get detained or kicked out, tell us about it. There are plenty of folks who can talk about healthcare and not having insurance to take their kid to the hospital and who have had relatives killed in Iraq. There are plenty of folks who rely on those tax cuts to power their corporations, who demand we close our borders and torture prisoners of war to get the answers we need.

Start a conversation with one of them.

And you don't even need a fancy lanyard to do it.