Saturday, December 30, 2006

Vloggers are voters, not reporters

Steve Garfield posted an interesting entry in Off On A Tangent today about his experience with the John Edwards campaign in a special "bloggers only" meeting that had been arranged in New Hampshire. I think part of difficulty he encountered was that the campaign, and to a certain extent the bloggers themselves consider bloggers to be essentially reporters. Different clothes, maybe, smaller cameras, but still, reporters. The good part to this is that at least some of them enjoy access and time with the candidate that the general public doesn't get. The bad part is that they are perceived as "the press" - a channel through which to deliver the message, rather than (and this is my big point) a voter to be met and to be shown the candidates up-close personality, and to be perhaps persuaded to vote for the candidate and to tell their friends (i.e., all their readers) that the candidate is a good guy, and maybe they should consider voting for him/her, too. To me, a blogger is less a reporter than a voter with a lot of friends. A candidate doesn't try to charm or convince a reporter like they do a voter.

There is a lot of conversation in the blogosphere lately about how objective bloggers should be when posting about political topics. Well first of all, there's room for a lot of different approaches. We're experimenting here, right? Let's throw some stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

If I was going to vlog about a campaign event or candidate, though, I wouldn't try to be like a professional reporter. The message of the video blog medium is personal connection. I'd act and want to be treated like a voter not a reporter. I want to get to know that candidate as a person. To let my instincts inform my decision. If I was a campaign manager, I'd think of vloggers as a way to make a personal connection between my candidate and the voters. Unless of course, my candidate is an ass, in which case, I'd want to keep them at a distance. Hmmm, could the access or lack thereof of a candidate to vloggers potentially be one metric for measuring the personal character of a candidate?