OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Saturday, August 19, 2006 :::

One Day Left to Register...

...for the Martinsville Blog Conference.

Yesterday, I finally got around to registering, and even made my hotel reservations.

And it's all because of the barbecue -- and not because of nagging suspicion that Will Vehrs wear footed pajamas, which he may or may not display at the 1st Annual Pajama Party.

But on a more serious note, one of the important reasons for people to attend -- particularly those who either could not or would not attend the Sorensen-sponsored conference earlier this summer -- is the opportunity to meet and understand the real people behind the digital personae. It's always rather striking to me to learn that, away from the relative security of the keyboard, bloggers tend to be a fairly reasonable lot. And almost always funny, engaging and even courteous. Given the hyperbole that's exploded from so many sites over the last week, a series of face-to-face discussion might not only be useful, but necessary to restoring a bit of civility to our corner of the net.

One of the items on the agenda will be a roundtable discussion between the press and bloggers. Very similar ground was plowed at the Sorensen conference, where, famously, the WaPo's Mike Shear declared that bloggers are not journalists.

Well, of course not. And mercifully so. Cathy Seipp was recently asked about the blogger-journalist divide, and touched on a number of issues that are sure to rankle one side or the other:

I'?m glad that traditional media has competition from gate-crashers like Matt Drudge and invaluable watchdogs such as Little Green Footballs'? Charles Johnson. But I often wonder what ossified harrumphers like Los Angeles Magazine'?s R.J. Smith, who earlier this year called the LGF blog "?constitutionally protected hate speech," do with their vast oceans of time between assignments.

Still, I'm sometimes struck by the naivete of fellow bloggers; those who'?ve obviously never been in a newsroom yet feel confident fulminating about what they imagine goes on behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Times and similar monolithic media institutions. Insisting that all bloggers are journalists is like insisting that every home movie of baby's birthday party should be eligible for Academy consideration.

I do not believe bloggers are "journalists," which is itself an inflated term for "reporters." Bloggers are a lot of things: Pamphleteers, diarists, commentators, dilettantes, wags and gadflies. Some are true reporters, but tending more to the muckraking side of the term than the more priestly (and perhaps false) definition to which newsroom denizens and normal folk alike subscribe.

And does it really matter? That's one of the things we may discover at the Conference.

Sign up today -- you'll be glad you did.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 8/19/2006 4 comments


"You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man

"The graveyards are full of indespensable men" -- Charles de Gaulle

"Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favor? Well maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys. Nature started the fight for survival and now she wants to quit because she's losing. Well I say, hard cheese!" -- Montgomery Burns

"Don't pretend that you know me...cause I don't even know myself" -- The Who

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