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Howard Kurtz on Edwards

Washington Post: A Candidate's Not-So-Candid Camera?

Howard Kurtz has a good article on the role of bloggers and new media in the Edwards campaign:

Chuck Olsen, a Minnesota freelancer paid for his work by Rocketboom and the campaign, writes on his blog: "For what it's worth I'm convinced Edwards is a passionate, smart, authentic person who would make a great president."Picture_6_1

That's true. But at least one person has called me a "paid shill," which made me giggle. Better a paid shill than just a shill, I suppose. That critic has a good point: Can you believe what I say if I'm getting paid? Can you trust bloggers who get free rides on a private jet? I think you can, if you already trusted the blogger, and take their work in the proper context. That context is not "objective journalism." It's simply access + perspective.

In my film Blogumentary, I show how I was the first blogger granted a press pass at the Minnesota Democratic convention. I gained access to a small press conference with none other than Sen. John Edwards. Great! However, I was intimidated and couldn't think of any good questions in those few fast minutes. I gained access, but didn't make the most of it.

In spite of all the hype around us so-called citizen journalists, the truth is it's easy for us to get swept up in our own access without necessarily providing real substance or critique. Real journalists do ask hard-hitting questions. We can too, of course, but we're still getting our feet wet. Once we have access, I think the best thing we offer is our own perspective. When John Edwards is making a speech in front of every major news company, what good are we duplicating that experience? None. So we talk to the staff, talk to each other, talk to people in the crowd. We document the spectacle of media coverage, the gears and cogs in a vast media machine. We wander down the block and find a church group stripping a moldy house down to the studs. "Don't forget about us when the cameras are gone," they say.

We tape ourselves drinking whiskey, eating Chinese food and watching Clerks II.

Is that valuable? Is that interesting? Yes! At least to a few of you. Nevertheless, I think we need to get beyond that, and find a role that makes the most of our newfound access without duplicating mainstream media.

USA Today's Chuck Raasch criticizes lack of financial disclosure
More disclosure discussion including Andrew Baron's take

January 8, 2007 at 05:12 PM in Current Affairs, Media, Videoblogging | Permalink


I can believe you when you're paid, I just want to know about it. It's just one piece of the overall picture. In my opinion, Rocketboom should have disclosed it's relationship. When bloggers take part in things that look like conventional journalism (real interviews, for example), they should acknowledge they're being paid. If you get paid for travel expenses, that's different than being paid as an advisor.

I don't care if a blogger gets a free flight. I don't think most movie reviewers disclose that the studios are paying for their junket.

Posted by: Jason at Jan 8, 2007 9:14:12 PM

I agree on all counts.

Disclosure is the way to go, and I see Andrew (Rocketboom) is being very up front about who paid for his trip to CES in Vegas right now. I'm also glad I was asked who was paying my way when I first started posting about it. It all happened really fast and I was rather fuzzy on my role. In a way that gave me freedom to tape what I wanted - nobody was telling what to tape or not tape, etc. but I also didn't know where the footage would be used, or if I could edit it myself. So far I've had my way with editing, except the Edwards people asked if I could cut out some of the swearing since their audience can be a little conservative.

Posted by: chuck at Jan 8, 2007 10:44:18 PM