The presidential election of 2004 delivered the first recognition of bloggers into the credentialed coverage of the Democratic and Republican Nation Conventions. That year the DNC hosted 40 bloggers and the RNC let in a mere 12 bloggers. Roll the clock forward to 2008 and the RNC has credentialed nearly 200 bloggers and will not make a distinction between them and all other journalists and media organizations.
New media and social media have come of age in the political arena. Mainstream and corporate media organizations are committing to the use and integration of social media into their coverage. For example, CSPAN has just announced their Convention Hub production for both the DNC and the RNC. The Convention Hub will include the following features:
— Real-time tracking of credentialed state and national political bloggers, aggregated on the websites, to enable users to follow the latest online convention news and analysis;
— Video clips from the network’s convention coverage, embeddable, to facilitate use by political bloggers and other convention watchers;
— Linkable access to the complete C-SPAN Video Library, allowing interested users to fully search all C-SPAN video content;
— Live coverage of C-SPAN television and radio networks;
— Blogger Tips and Online Convention Video Finder tools;
— Real-time feeds from Twitter users using the hash-tags #RNC08 and #DNC08
Major developments in the ease and low cost of production have generated an explosion of indie media in 2008. Blogging has transformed into microblogging with services like Twitter and it’s open source alternative Identi.ca. Online video has transformed from YouTube to Qik and even more powerful platforms like Mogulus have provided the tools to integrate all forms of indie media into full featured interactive TV.
Many of these tools are still in beta state, but their existence along with the build out of faster mobile networks have freed the production of media from multi-million dollar broadcast studios to the mobile phones in everyone’s hand. “We the media” has arrived.
Not only are corporate media organizations coordinating and cooperating with indie media producers and bloggers, but many protagonists are by passing CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and other news organizations to engage in conversations directly with the public and their constituents. The role model for early adoption is Representative John Culberson (R – TX). Culberson not only established a presence on Twitter, but he regularly engages in dialogue with anyone in the network who attempts to communicate with him. Further, Culberson regularly posts video from outside the House chamber on Qik. All of this Rep. Culberson does using his Nokia N95 for video and his Blackberry for Twitter. A number of Republicans have followed John’s example are now engaging with the public using mobile social media and publishing tools.
I considered my own coverage of the Republican National Convention pondering what I might add to the obsessive commentary and observations by cable news, network news and blogger pundits, wonks and journalists. The short answer is: nothing. But what I could add of value is to train and equip actors and protagonists of the RNC, itself. I can enable the creation of a view of the convention from the people who are behind-the-scenes presented and duplicated by all other media outlets. Thus was born GOP Unconventional.
Mobile Technology plays a major role in the production of GOP Unconventional. With the help of sponsors including: Cradlepoint Technology, Qik and Mogulus and using powerful mobile devices like the Nokia N95 and other smartphones GOP Unconventional will deliver workshops on the use of the technology for creating a unique and “unconventional” perspective on the event.
We are still looking for additional sponsors to support the creation of media and also to provide giveaways which will go to lucky audience members during the week of Sept. 1 – 4. Stay tuned to the site for more information on show times and how you can win some of the mobile technology we use to create GOP Uncoventional. You can follow us on Twitter too at GOPUnconvention. Twitter didn’t allow the enough letters in the id to get “al”on the end.