Blogging the Libby Trial: OTB and MBA on CNN
I was interviewed a week ago by CNN’s Jacki Schechner about the Media Bloggers Association getting credentials for the Scooter Libby trial. The segment appeared Tuesday on “American Morning.” Matt Sheffield of NewsBusters captured the video for me and I uploaded it to YouTube:
Not a particularly scintillating performance, unfortunately. I’m not on television much and Jacki was interviewing me via telephone and I was staring at a predesignated spot on a pole, so it was an awkward experience.
The basic thrust of the report was that little old bloggers are covering the trial just like the Professional Reporters but that we are just people with opinions and don’t have a vetting process like the Professional Reporters at Prestigious Media Companies like CNN.
As I told them during the 89 minutes or so we talked and they didn’t use, that’s a silly dichotomy.
For one thing, the thrust of the Media Bloggers Association is to organize and credential bloggers through a peer review process. MBA president Robert Cox managed to get us credentials precisely because he was able to persuade the court that they would be dealing with mature people who had established an audience, not random yahoos keeping a diary about their cat on the Internet.
More importantly, bloggers aren’t in competition with the mainstream press except in the sense that people’s time is finite. Blogs feature a dialog between writers and their readership community, whereas mainstream reporting is top-down and authoritarian.
I’ll be attending and covering the trial Monday through Thursday of next week, along with Murray Waas, a National Journal online reporter who will be blogging for Crooks and Liars. Jacki asked what we’ll add to the coverage, given that dozens of other journalists who are trained reporters will be there. A small snippet from my answer appears in the video clip. Neither of us are likely to break any big news stories missed by the media. Then again, as I pointed out, neither will CNN. What we’ll add to the process is different perspectives, real-time observations, and a chance for readers to post comments and maybe get some questions answered.
This isn’t blogger triumphalism. I don’t think we’re going to CHANGE THE WORLD in some major way by being there, much less put the mainstream media out of business. Then again, I have no desire to do those things, either in the case of this trial in particular or the blog in general. I’m going because I think it’ll be interesting, provide something unique to discuss with my readers, and generally be a lot of fun. But that’s pretty much why I do this every other day, too.
UPDATE: CNN’s Abbi Tatton covered this for “The Situation Room” on Monday the 15th. She has screenshots of several participating blogs, including this one, but it’s just a narrative without any clips of blogger interviews.