Saturday - Breakout #6

"How to write great political coverage: From breaking news to Op-Ed"

We're starting out in break out groups to answer: "Is a political blogger the same as a person who blogs about politics?"

My group came up with a distinction between the two in the a political blogger is someone who is trying to effect a particular outcome, targeting a segment to sway. Then there are those whose blogging about politics is storytelling. We did note that blogging can become political even when we think we're not writing politically. The woman who noted this mentioned that she usually blogs about jazz and then Katrina happened. She had always lamented why jazz doesn't hold a higher status in our society and came to the conclusion that it was a race issue. She did visit NOLA soon after the disaster to help with clean-up.

Two points have bubbled up in the larger conversation:
  1. Use primary sources: don't just depend on the AP, WaPo, etc. to tell the facts; read govt reports & not just the summary; see if you can get a statement from the report writer
  2. Think about what you're not hearing: journalism tends to be episodic, you need to follow up on stories
Our moderator spent the week that GWB went to Africa reading African newspapers. THEN read what the NYTimes, WaPo, etc said about the trip. It was fascinating the distinctions!

Letters to the editor can be powerful and can lead to bigger things (guest speaking, op-eds, political commentary career). Amen! Everyone should be writing letters to the editor. My writing has fallen by the wayside, but I guess it's time to pick them up again!

Pet peeve/pitfalls: Non-disclosure (if you're getting paid by a campaign, you gotta say it), mainstream media pits the extremes on both sides against each other.

FINALLY! Someone disses DailyKos for now being just an arm of the Democratic Party and not the grassroots/netroots community it claims it is. OK...enough on that or I'll start ranting. And no, I'm not going to his ego party this weekend. I promise, that's it.

We need to take advantage of the diversity in the blogosphere in every form it takes to really make a change.

What is political to one community isn't for another. Food/grocery deserts is a political issue that touches on urban planning, racism, on and on... Just a few years ago the A-list political bloggers (mostly men) were claiming that women bloggers weren't blogging about politicals. In reality women were framing their politics differently than those men were (*cough*DailyKos*cough*).

Try to understand the issue from multiple sides not just your side or "the other side."

Don't feel like you need to cover the issue all in one post. Break it down into parts.

Take home points: Know what you're writing, don't do commentary from the hip, it shouldn't be just opinion, use fact/data from credible sources, and stay human.

Citizen Journalism is the buzzword for this entire conference, but esp in the session.

This has been HANDS DOWN the best session and there's only one more to go. The Momosphere one was great, but I got more out of this one for me personally and professionally.