The Bloggers on the Bus: Is It Kosher?

December 29th, 2006 |

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If having some citizen journalists on the bus will give alternative coverage to the relationship between the traditional media and candidates, then it is a welcome change, right?

Not necessarily.

The early questions over who was paying for Robert Scoble’s meals were a roundabout way of asking what kind of relationship the social media folks on that private Edwards campaign jet would be building with the candidate.

It’s still a good question. PodTech’s paying for the bulk of Robert’s trip, and Robert’s not actually going to wade too deeply into the politics of it all, if that’s possible, at least according to his posts so far 🙂

But he’s not the only one out there with a camera and a Web site. And there are some good questions about what it means to be asked by a candidate to take video and then post it to YouTube on behalf of the candidate.

Or onto the candidate’s official Web site, for that matter.

It’s the kind of work a high-priced production team would do, along with a PR firm. But they’d be called consultants, and they’d probably be based in a place like Washington, DC and New York City.

So maybe the media landscape is changing, but not as much as we thought.

Maybe it’s going to hit the consultants hardest.

While low-cost online alternatives step into the breach, fumbling with their light-meters and autofocus, asking softball questions and giving us a poor substitute for news, the good news is written all over the papers.

Because social media might not end up being a replacement for the traditional news media, even if it does become part of the political process. It might just be a replacement for Madison Avenue and Washington consultants.

Just to be clear, though, Robert isn’t shilling for Edwards. I’m pretty sure that he’d be just as happy to tag along on a McCain bus, or a Romney bus — or pretty much any candidate’s bus — if they were making a serious effort to bring social media into the campaign process.

You only have to read the dustjacket of Naked Conversations to understand that there are people out there — Robert chief among them — who believe that a shift like that would be significant, even if only because it turns citizen journalists into citizen PR firms.

It’s about technology and society — not politics. And it’s a start.

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Posted in: Connected Social Media, Technology