Sunday, June 04, 2006

Annoying Rumination About a Free Ticket # 2

Before I go too deep into the various events of last night – which provided material for a week’s worth of posts at least – the issue of the comps should be addressed.

I took and appreciate the ticket from Obama. What it does for me is free up $150 for either my local party, SCPD, a particular candidate or some combination. That’s what I’d rather do with my money, though something will be heading to ODP from the House of Pho at some point.

I felt fairly confident that Obama wasn’t trying to buy bloglove – as if he needs to. I certainly wouldn’t have taken if I felt differently. I’ve refused an offer of coffee at MTB events just because it felt uncomfortable. This didn’t feel that way. Obama believes in the online community and apparently hoped to help build it in Ohio.

On the other hand, in legal professional responsibility they drill into lawyers: avoid the appearance of impropriety. Admittedly, taking the comp ticket runs afoul of that high standard.

After the press conferences I introduced myself to Chris Redfern. He said something like “You’ve cuffed me around haven’t you?” The truth is, not much but it has happened. That’s a conversation that would have felt much more awkward if I was there on ODP’s dime. Not that it’s my mission to bash my party. I love the Democratic Party. Sometimes I just need to poke it with a sharp stick. It’s how I show my love*.

I had a very good conversation with John Kohlstrand – Communications Director for the House Minority Caucus and former blogger at High and Broad. The upshot was: new medium, I made mistakes. Same here. I’m still feeling my way around what this blogging is – activism? citizen journalism? activist citizen journalism? Mistake may be too strong a word; more like something I did once that felt off and won’t be repeated.

The most significant development in this process was ODP initiating a credentialing process for bloggers. There was, apparently, a press gallery where reporters could watch the speeches and presumably meet folks for interviews but not get fed. Had ODP responded to the initial inquiry with the offer of blogger credentials, it would have satisfied me, though I won’t speak for the other bloggers.

What’s most important to me as a blogger is access, plus independence. I don’t ever want to give someone the opportunity to say “How could you say X when I gave you Y?” Granted, in a world where professional sports writers can lose access for asking tough questions,maintaining access and independence is not without challenge.

Ultimately the effect of comps on a blog’s credibility is for the reader and the subject to decide. Personally, I feel pretty free to give a warts-and-all appraisal of the night, though happily it was a fairly low-wart-count event.

Finally, I wish we could have had the discussion of what all this means without the vituperation. We are all – everyone – exploring what this new medium is. I think we can do with a little slack. At the same time, while I believe the world needs blogs, what nobody needs is a yet another field of endeavor whose practitioners believe they are above reproach.

(*The source from which that’s paraphrased is worth 30 PhoPoints.)

4 comments:

BetsyMcCall said...

Very good post. I'm glad you had the chance to meet with so many of the people you are prodding with a sharp stick. It helps gain some perspective.

The biggest problem lefty Ohio blogs have had is their insularity from the real political world and the lack of real research on the policies and candidates. As great as the internet is, its no replacement for getting out in the real world and talking to people. And hanging out with other bloggers in the cafes doesn't count.

While its good to stay objective and not put yourself in the position of appearing to accept favors, it shouldn't preclude getting out and meeting candidates and party activists on their own turf.

Keep up the good work.

Pho said...

Betsy:

While I thank you for your kind words, I can't agree with your assessment of the Ohio Lefy Blogosphere. I'm hard pressed to think of a liberal blogging about state and local politics who is not out their digging and working. The most obvious example is the MTB events. Beyond that, nearly all the bloggers, myself included, cover rallies and speeches, speak to sources. And a lot of us work in some advocacy capacity. When I blog about education for example, it's based on three years work in grassroots education advocacy. Bill Callahan has over 30 years in grassroots economic development. Between the horses on the Billy and Tim Russo you have years of experience working on campaigns. I can't imagine how you've arrived at your conclusion.

Ohio 2nd said...

Betsy,

I can only speak for myself, and all I can say is you have no idea what you are talking about. My work speaks for itself, and I don't have to justify it to anyone.

You need to get our from behind the monitor and really find out what lefty Ohio blogs are doing. You have no idea.

BetsyMcCall said...

I understand what you're saying and agree, with the exception of Tim Russo. I fear his personal problems have clouded his judgement when it comes to commenting on issues from the Dem / liberal POV. Enough said.
As for the other bloggers you mention, time will tell.

I've been involved in politics and public policy in Ohio since 1991 in a very active way. I was politically active when being politically active wasn't cool, you know one of those people you used to try to avoid at the county fair when I was passing out literature for Dem candidates.

I have nothing but the highest respect for Dem leaders (elected and otherwise) who have put up with all the voter apathy during the Clinton and early Bush years and stuck it out to live under the abuse of the GOP in Washington DC and Columbus and the neglect by the DNC under McCauliffe and still worked their behinds off trying to make a difference.

While its encouraging to see so many people finally become interested in politics again, its been an incredible disappointment to see how quickly they've turned on these Dems. The Ohio blogger bandwagon that chooses to throw the baby out with the bathwater has been worse than voter apathy. I'll be the first to admit Dems aren't perfect, but I've also favored keeping my criticism behind closed doors until all options were exhausted.

Fortunately, its a problem that can be fixed with some experience and it appears many are beginning to get there. As I said, keep up the good work. We're glad to have you aboard. Keep getting out there and getting to know the party, the candidates, the voters and the issues.