Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Convention blog watch

Setting the stage

As the two dozen-plus independent Web logs ("blogs") with press credentials settle in to cover the Republican National Convention online this week, Jay Rosen's Press Think blog sets the stage in a literal sense. Rosen describes how Republicans have designed the space in New York's Madison Square Garden, and what that says about how they will portray President Bush. The GOP, he notes, brought up the floor of the hall and reduced the size of the "battleship" stage, giving the hall a more intimate, less grandiose look. He talks about the GOP's decision to have Bush give his acceptance speech Thursday in a "theater in the round" setting, surrounded by delegates. "This reflects the confidence that convention planners have in their man's comfort with himself, one of Bush's clearer advantages."

But beyond Bush: "The art and design of political conventions are advancing before our eyes. The old forms are breaking up. The stage is literally coming apart. New ideas are emerging in how to "carry" the convention to the rest of the nation - and how to get people to watch."

• Metablogs: Why didn't somebody think of this before? Instead of clicking onto lots of separate blogs, you can get a summary of what they're saying by surfing to one of the three sites that "aggregate" the blogs' content: conventionbloggers.com, politics.feedster.com, and politics.technorati.com. The last site has charts that show you what stories are getting the most links (therefore attention) from "authoritative political bloggers."

• Hizz(former)onor: Many of the blogs were buzzing about a visit Monday by former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who's turned some heads by endorsing Bush. Koch, of course, is a lifelong Democrat in a heavily Democratic city, and he says he disagrees with Bush on nearly all domestic issues. But then there's terrorism: Fundamentalist Muslim fanatics "want to kill us. I don't want to be killed. And I'd rather kill them, over there, than have our people killed over here," says Koch. "New York is an ultraliberal town. How I ever got elected in New York, I've never been able to figure out. ... I would say this - I love New York. I love every one of the crazies."

• Corporate blogs: One sure sign that blogs are no longer "cutting edge": The major news organizations' Web sites are doing their own genuine imitation blogs. MSNBC (hardball.msnbc.com) has "Hardblogger" (a blog spinoff of Chris Matthews' Hardball show) with entries by Matthews, David Shuster, Andrea Mitchell, Joe Scarborough, Ron Reagan, former Howard Dean campaign guru Joe Trippi and others. So what are they writing about? Shuster reported Monday on folks arguing over what's the best college fight song, and Mitchell complained, "New York is an armed camp. Street closures change by the minute. But inside the hermetically sealed convention, you'd never know what is happening on the streets." They really need to get out more.

If you spot any convention-related blogs we should check out, particularly by bloggers with ties to Greater Cincinnati, let us know. Send your suggestions to Ray Cooklis at rcooklis@enquirer.com.

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