Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Sunny day passes my window


It was a nice, bright, sun-shiny day. Guess where I was? In a hotel room with 90 other people who’d rather be blogging.

The Wispolitics/Wisopinion Blog Summit was held today at the Country Inn in Waukesha. ATT was the corporate sponsor, so they were able to serve coffee and soft drinks. Sean at the American Mind no doubt has a joke at my expense regarding this.

Jeff Mayer at has to be very pleased with how the conference turned out. It was well attended with lots of fireworks and lots of discussion. I think many of the skeptics, and I’ll admit I was a little skeptical, had to be pleased with how the conference went.

Not all in attendance were bloggers. Some were “mainstream” media types who came to see the exhibits at the zoo. Others were political activist types like Mark Block from Americans for Prosperity, Chris Kliesmet from Citizens for Responsible Government, and Dennis Krueger, candidate for Waukesha District Attorney.

Ann Althouse gave the keynote address, which gave us an insight into how and why she got into blogging, and how she saw her blog. She confessed to not writing about Wisconsin issues very much, though she is following the controversial proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

Conservative bloggers outnumbered the liberals according to a show of hands. However, the discussion remained general, and if there was any adversarial argument, it was along the lines of mainstream media vs. the blogs.

At one point, someone wondered why newspapers don’t use bloggers as stringers. A couple of minutes of discussion later someone from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel responded that bloggers aren’t reporters, that they don’t do original reporting, that they just react to what they read in the newspaper.

I set her straight, pointing out that blogs are now getting inside tips and information not found in their newspaper, that we’re getting press releases and making phone calls to verify the information. I also pointed out that because many bloggers didn’t go to journalism school they may actually cover politics better than reporters. (I’m looking forward to the video of that moment getting posted.)

Probably the most interesting panel of the day was State Representative Mark Pocan (Dem), Charlie Sykes (WTMJ radio), Ed Garvey, and Republican consultant Brian Fraley. Garvey went first, claiming that blogs will have little impact on the 2006 elections so long as big corporate media dominate. Charlie Sykes responded to the contrary, and sparks flew from there. As soon as posts the video I’ll get up the link.

In the end, the “Blogger of the Year” award was presented. This year, the award was given to Dennis York, a pseudonymous writer based presumably in Madison, who’s satires are the favorite of both the right and the left. As only Dennis York could do it, he accepted the award with a videotaped acceptance speech using a sock puppet and a disguised voice.

If I have any suggestions for the organizers, I would suggest that next year they consider having a workshop or two on the nuts & bolts of blogging: templates, new technology, pod casts, video blogging, different services and their advantages.

They did have a lawyer speak on the legal dangers of blogging, and given the warm reception this segment received, I hope they continue this next year as more case law develops. Maybe by then it will be appropriate to add an insurance expert as well.

Gosh, I hope not, but given the possible costs of a lawsuit, some bloggers might need it.

Update! The “Dennis Pork” Sock Puppet becomes a statistic.

Update! I’ve been back-filling links as I read others’ accounts of the summit. Apparently the aforemention Journal Sentinel spokesperson was Mandy Jenkins, their experiment in blogging. She should complain about her photograph in the newspaper. And maybe she could take a few journalism tips from a few bloggers.

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