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21 July 2004

Press questions for the bloggers

The blog server at Harvard has been down since sometime yesterday, so I’m just getting back in today.

I’ve received a couple of requests from different media outlets about
how I plan to cover the convention.  Here’s the longest one, from
New York Newsday:

> 1) What is your general strategy for covering the convention? Where and how will you spend your time?

Follow my instincts.  I’m most interested in seeing what’s going
on around the margins of the convention and also in listening to what’s
being repeated over and over again.  I think we probably learn
more about politics when we pay attention to what’s being said without
reflection as well as to what’s not being said.  So I’ll go see
the protestors in their “cage” (see,
for example), to see how that’s affecting them, as well as to see
whether the protestors themselves have fallen into “scripts” like Jay mentions in his pressthink article.

> 2)  Is there a particular gap that you are trying to fill with your coverage?

Not particularly.  There’s 15 000 journalists who are going to be
there, so it’d be a tad hubristic to think that I’m going to find some
gap that they haven’t.  Mostly, I’m interested in watching to see
what unfolds away from the eye of the camera.  I want to talk about
what it all *means*, from a background of political philosophy and
political science.

> 4) Who is your readership?

I have no real idea.  I write about politics and religion and
their confluence, and I seem to get a highly varied group of people.
Priests, academics, friends, other bloggers, a couple of journalists,
and those are just the ones I’m aware of.

> 5) Will your blog be reviewed by anyone before it goes out? If so, how will that process work?

No, it won’t.  And that’s not really a problem.  I don’t make
claims to be “objective”, as objectivity, in the sense that most people
mean when they use the word, does not really exist, as we’ve learned
many years of social theory and research.  For more on this,
everyone should read a little Max Weber and a little Ludwig
Wittgenstein.  My goal is to be aware of my biases, to report
them, and then try to minimize their impact upon my analysis.

> 6) What will you do at the convention that a mainstream journalist would not do?

I’m not a journalist of any sort, as far as I’m concerned.  I’m a
professional political scientist.  I plan to talk about the
convention form the viewpoint of a political scientist who likes to
think and write about politics out loud.

> 7) Are there any ethical rules that you plan to follow?

Yes.  Don’t lie.  Be clear about your biases.  Don’t attack someone ad hominem.

I find it interesting that there’s been all this hullaballoo about
whether bloggers will act in an ethical fashion.  Especially after
Alex Jones’ straw man piece in the LA Times this weekend, there seems to be this idea that we’re renegades, ethically ambiguous, and ready to
destroy whomever we decide to take a dislike to at all costs. What’s
funny about this is that the press seems to forget all the scandals of
the past two years, in which high profile reporters for USA
Today, the New York Times, and so forth, have been found to violate the
journalistic code of ethics.  The mainstream press had no real
safeguards either; they simply asked the public and each other to
accept their word on trust.  So, even though I am not a
journalist, I’m following the same set of guidelines that a journalist
would, with about the same level of scrutiny.

> 8) How long will your dispatches be? How will you decide that?

Lewis Carroll put it quite nicely:
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
And, to paraphrase the Mad Hatter: I will write my dispatches precisely as long as they need to be, no more, no less.

Posted in Politicks on 21 July 2004 at 1:39 pm by Nate