citizen journalism

Ban Or Embrace Bloggers?

I just read at the Beltway Blogroll that the Obama campaign banned an Ohio blogger from covering an event he had travelled all the way to New Hampshire to see. The event, free and open to the public, was not open to the press, and when Jerid, the banned blogger, told some of the officials at the Obama event that he was a blogger, he was met with the following response: "Oooooooh, I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave," […] "These events are closed to the press."

Strange indeed! Pretty ridiculous according to the Daily Kos:

Psst, Obama? It's stupid to keep people out of events because they have a blog. In today's world, everyone has a blog, or writes at blogs, or has a MySpace or Facebook page, or participates in online forums like bulletin boards. It's 2007. Please have your campaign update its SOP accordingly. As for bloggers, don't say that you are bloggers. I'm not sure what benefits you get from announcing it to the world.

Judged by the response that the banned blogger’s post about his experience being banned from Obama’s event has received in the blogosphere, I have to say that I agree.

Here’s Jerid’s take on the situation:

The Obama campaign, along with some of the other prezzies, don't understand the concept of citizen journalists. There's a lot of old school politics out here on the NH campaigns - some of the communications folks desperately need to refresh their understanding of how bloggers work. You see, we're not all the same. Just like regular folks, there are friendly bloggers that want to help, and there are bloggers bent on screwing you. It's up to a campaign to discern who's who and dole out special access depending on such. However, we're regular folks too - we volunteer, vote, and try to help because we believe in the Democratic party.

The problem is that it raises this ENORMOUS question of transparency and access. How will blogs be treated by this wave of presidential campaigns; will they they take a dynamic approach to determining who's friendly and will they recognize that a lot of blogs are run by the same folks on their volunteer rosters; or will they stonewall? Obama's approach actually encourages bloggers to be dishonest with his campaign for fear of access - that's not a smart strategy.