Carla Marinucchi looks at this year's California Democratic Party Convention: Bloggers descend on Dems' gathering:
This year, a record 50 Internet-publication bloggers will join the estimated 400 credentialed "mainstream" media in the press room to track the doings of seven Democratic presidential candidates and 2,100 California party delegates this weekend.
Experts say the increased presence of bloggers at such traditional events will be closely watched to track their growing influence and analyze how their coverage shapes the candidates' strategies in the 2008 presidential election.
Bob Brigham, 29, an Internet strategist and blogger for Calitics, a liberal Web site that provides commentary on Democratic politics, said the intensity of the "netroots" coverage "stretches the debate in terms of breadth and depth" and has the potential to create immediate ripple effects among a hardcore dedicated political audience.
"If someone has a breakaway speech like (Howard) Dean had four years ago, it could be a paradigm shift in the conventional wisdom about the race," said Brigham, who produces regular commentary on Calitics under his "blogswarm" sign-on. "And if someone gets booed this year, it won't be an item in a sixth paragraph of a news story -- it will be on the front page on all of the blogs."
Some tradition consultants "get it" and others a scared fools.
Blogger coverage at a state political convention has the potential to reach "hundreds of thousands of Democrats in our party, and we are so much more because of it," said Eric Jaye, a Democratic strategist who is advising Charlie Brown, a Democratic House candidate who challenged Republican Rep. John Doolittle of Rocklin (Placer County) last fall and will do so again in 2008.
"It has put races in play that would not have been in play and taken huge parts of America that were no-go zones, and it's turning them from red to blue," Jaye said of the Internet activity among activists. "Thanks to the blogosphere, we're becoming a national party again -- not just a party of two coasts."
But one key state Democratic strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of concern for riling the netroots crowd, warns that such efforts are potentially positive and negative.
Netroots commentary can frequently be intensely personal, even "totally mean and irrational," the strategist said, with some bloggers finding power in their ability "to assassinate political characters online."
"It's amplified by the anonymity, and it can be scary that it's so irresponsible," the insider said. "And it's pulling the mainstream media in that direction."
No wonder the mainstream media is being pulled in a different direction.
one key state Democratic strategist, *speaking on the condition of anonymity* (whined about blogs because they are) "amplified by the anonymity"
No wonder the
-By Bob Brigham