Tuesday, March 08, 2005

If it's Tuesday, it must be bloggers...

Yesterday was 13 hours on podcasting. Today I must begin -- and finish -- a story on blogging. Sure, piece of cake.

Of course, today began with signs and portents, particularly this headline from Page 5A: "White House admits/first blogger to briefing." It's a six-inch AP piece on Garrett Graff of the MediaBistro blog Fishbowl D.C. getting a daily pass to the briefing room... a little test of WH accessibility claims in the wake of the Gannon/Guckert debacle.

The AP writes that Graff, 23, "decided to see if he could get a daily pass for a briefing after a recent controversy raised questions about White House access and who is a legitimate reporter (emphasis added)."

And the White House comment? "The briefing room ought to be an inclusive place," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

So there you have it: five newsprint graphs on a test of McClellan's Gannon/Guckert claims and zero mention of the Gannon/Guckert scandal. Amazing.

Feh, I say. Look, Graff has been blogging on this for the better part of a week. After three days of trying he had gotten exactly nowhere with the WH Media Affairs office -- 17 unreturned phone calls, zero access to anyone above the rank of intern. He enlisted his boss at MediaBistro to help, and that got nowhere, too.

Instead, it looks like the thing that got him that pass was intervention by THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA (ah, sweet irony). A couple of guys from the press pool took an independent interest in Graff's saga and went to the WH Press Office (a separate organization from WH Media Affairs), where someone apparently had the brains to figure out that you score PR points by letting the guy in, plus then he takes his pesky blog and goes away.

Result: Graff got in and our readers got a whittled-down wire story, stripped of context, that made the members of the WH brain trust look like progressive thinkers on media.

Of course, the original AP story gave the Gannon/Guckert background, but our 5A was squeezed by longer stories. Somebody made the wrong cut, but I don't think the motivation was partisan.

The real problem here is that We (that's the MSM royal We, BTW) continue to miss the significance of Jay Rosen's press decertification story, so we treated this piece like a brite on blogging. End result: We cut out its heart to save room for Graff's brite last-graph quote about the briefing room not being very glamorous. Why? Because we didn't see the story as being part of something serious.

And this is liberal bias... how?

As I said once to a former boss, You Cannot See What You Cannot Imagine.

P.S.: My favorite day-after nugget from Graff? "You can either be blogging the news or gathering news to blog. It's damn hard to do coherent and in-depth reporting on a blog timeline." Welcome to the Monkey House, Mr. Graff.