Google Inc. will help set up a two-story, 8,000 square-foot headquarters for hundreds of bloggers descending on the Democratic convention in Denver next week, and it will offer similar services at the Republican convention in September, as new media gain influence in politics… With its financial support for the “Big Tent” blogger facility at the Democratic convention, Google stands to gain exposure and goodwill from 500 or so bloggers who paid $100 for access to the facility, run by a coalition of bloggers. Google’s software and services will be featured, including a kiosk in the public area of the tent where anyone can post videos on YouTube.
A story on the Wall Street Journal points to Google’s presence at the US Republican and Democratic Party Conventions in 2008. $100 for access to its “tent” isn’t cheap, but I have no doubt that they won’t be filled to the brim. While Google doesn’t report news, it certainly has the potential to shape the news agenda through its control of the vectors through which most of us receive news and information – through the web, through video and blogs and through our mobile phones. Google has a hand in all of these vectors and dominates news searches on the web.
So clearly, it’s presence at these conventions is an interesting move and its showcase of new technologies, including word recognition in videos, have implication farther afield in online video.
The WSJ article ends by quoting Micah Sifry, co-founder of TechPresident.com who says that,
“The paradox is that the events themselves are all news-free, and it’s really mostly just atmospherics; there’s no real news made after the VP picks are announced. On the other hand, it’s a target-rich environment for bloggers.”
It’s a quote that contradicts points enumerated earlier in the article, that suggest news can and is often made when least expected. The proliferations of mobiles into every nook and cranny of the convention is both a boon and bane for those who wish to control news outflows. A gaffe, slur or private remark can in seconds hit the web and be irrevocably disseminated to hundreds, if not thousands of sites, beyond the capacity of any take-down order to censor.
Does all this coverage lead to better coverage? While each blogger registered at each convention will have a devoted following, I still believe that wire services and mainstream media coverage (also on the web and through social networking platforms) will dominate the analysis of the content of both conventions.
What do you think? Will Google’s presence generate more interest in new media coverage of the conventions (and importantly, the issues they raise)?