I’m listening to Adam Curry’s podcast today and he just asked “why the secrecy before I went with Edwards?” He also asked whether bloggers would be able to ask the tough questions? Also over on John Welch’s blog he attacked me for not reporting anything substantive.
They asked me to not write about the campaign’s announcement before I got on the bus. Why not? They wanted a big bang, just like Steve Jobs wants when he keeps everything secret until he’ll announce stuff at MacWorld.
Regarding asking the tough questions. I don’t think that’s a problem with the campaigns. I watched Edwards — over the span of three days — get asked hundreds of questions, including on what he’d do in Iraq, what he’d do regarding gay marriage, how he’d get Americans to conserve energy, and all that.
I realized within a few minutes of arriving at that house in New Orleans that I was simply not going to add any additional value over the mainstream press in reporting what he said. Come on, on that front lawn was more than a million dollars of equipment. Bloggers are supposed to compete with that? No way, no how.
So, what did I do? I just started listening. I got to know his staff instead of trying to ask a question that’d get Edwards angry or give me an answer that he wouldn’t give Matt Lauer on the Today Show.
The other thing, John, is you totally miss what I’m there to do. I’m not there to be a news source. I was there to study how campaigns are using technology. I will go to Newt Gingrich’s campaign stops, if he asks me along to study that.
Was I used by the campaign? Absolutely. I was there to give a different look at the campaign than the Washington Post or CNN could give. They wanted to be the first campaign to reach out to the social media industry. They are using more social media than any other campaign so far. Go ahead and visit Hillary’s site. Or Barack’s. Or Newt’s. Or any of the others. No one else has a Facebook site, a MySpace page, a blog, a video blog team. I haven’t seen the others do live blogging like was done over on Daily Kos this week.
Over the next week I’ll get up my own interviews and you’ll see the video I captured. I’m not that fast, but then, I don’t see my job to compete with CNN in speed. There’s no way bloggers are going to be able to do that.
There’s no way I was going to be able to give you more depth than Dan Balz, reporter for the Washington Post. He’s been covering politics since when I was in middle school. I needed a few days just to get up to speed on the political system.
Let’s go at this another way. What do you wish I would have reported? What do you want to know from me now about my experiences, and what I heard?
Keep in mind, I have lots of stuff to get up for you to watch/listen to, including recordings of two blogger meetings where groups of z-list bloggers asked him pretty good questions, I thought, and my own interview with him.
One thing about access: Just because you get access doesn’t mean you get anything unique that other people aren’t already reporting on. When he’s on the plane he discussed mundane things with his staff. His staff would give him feedback about what was being discussed on blogs and forums. They talked about questions he could have answered a little better, or impressions of the day. Pretty boring stuff. Do you really want me to get boring? I could tell you he likes Diet Sunkist. Does that really help the dialog here?
Or, does it matter that some of his campaign staff has worked on eight Presidential campaigns and they think he’s the nicest guy they’ve worked for so far? If I reported stuff like that, you’d all call me a shill anyway. Or, how about does it matter that he knows how to use a Blackberry? I mean, how mundane do you want me to get?
Anyway, just some thoughts from your favorite shill blogger.
UPDATE: Shel Israel wrote a nice post about what I was there to do.
I notice that Ryan Montoya, the Edwards’ staffer who invited me on the bus, is watching the blogs too.
Michael Markman has the best comment: “It won’t matter whether Scoble is for or against Edwards—or if Scoble’s readers can figure that out. Edwards success or failure is not in Scoble’s hands. It’s totally up to John Edwards.”