WASHINGTON: Bloggers will take one more step into the mainstream media this summer now that both major political parties have said they will issue credentials to the amateur scribes for their national conventions.
Whether bloggers would be admitted had been the subject of debate within both parties since earlier this year, when the online scribblers began applying for admittance. The Democrats made their announcement last month, citing it as further proof that they were "the party of inclusion."
"This is a very Democratic activity, and we wanted to allow the citizen journalists to partake this year," said Lina Garcia, press secretary for the Democratic National Convention.
A GOP spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse last week that it, too, was working to grant bloggers official access.
The free-form writers pose a thorny dilemma for both parties. Unlike conventional journalists, most claim no objectivity or even a commitment to facts. Still, they command an increasingly broad audience among young people and have lately been showing increasing influence over breaking news stories.
"Because this is the first time we're doing this, we'll need to have a conversation after the convention" to gauge its success, said Garcia. "But we're very excited to get them involved. They can reach out to a demographic we might miss."
Precisely who gets credentials will be decided based on originality of content and readership. Garcia added that ideology would not impact the decision and that the organizers would try to get a diverse political mix of bloggers.
Both parties have also hired writers to create blogs specifically for the conventions. Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns now maintain blogs as well.