Which bloggers matter?

Which bloggers matter?

: Michael Zimmer asks an intriguing question in the comments below: If you were selecting the bloggers to be credentialed to cover the Democratic convention (or any other news event), what criteria would you use?

I’m unfamiliar with the standards used to issue press passes in general, but I’m interested in what people think the standard should be for bloggers. How should the convention planners determine which bloggers get credentials? Number of hits? Lottery?

Seth Finkelstein replies:

I believe standards are roughly the combination of

1) How many people do you reach?

2) How “important” are they?

That is, you can have a small audience, but if it’s for a trade journal (“Editor and Publisher”?), that might pass.

Someone who knows more, feel free to correct me. But this seems like it would easily apply to bloggers as well.

Yes, by the way, someone makes a values decision – I think “small press” publishers have at times been unhappy.

One imagines a tortured session at the DNC: One blogger out of every possible minority (any blind bloggers?); checks on their political leaning (what’s the definition of Democrat?); FBI background checks (well, he only sounds like a dangerous crackpot)…

I’ll repeat that on the one hand, the last thing we citizen journalists should do is join the mob already over-reporting an undereventful moment like a modern-day political convention. We should strive to give you the stories and perspectives the big guys do not report. Nonetheless, access to official events is a key benefit of mainline press that should accrete to citizens’ press and as it does, people will have to decide which citizens get behind the rope.

So what are the criteria? Traffic and audience may seem to be in the best interests of the credentialing organization (more people equals more publicity) but that’s an old-media way of looking at things (aka the power-law way). The truth is that you may want to get the influencers talking to more targeted groups. Quotas quickly become offensive. A lottery ignores the meritocracy that is the blogosphere. Maybe bloggers should select the bloggers who get in. What do you think?