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    Web 2.0: Blogtropulus vs. the Legacy Press Room

    by JD Lasica
    April 25, 2008

    Bloggers lounge

    One of the most telling juxtapositions at this week’s Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco is taking place on the third floor of the Moscone Center, where the traditional press lounge and the bloggers lounge (dubbed Blogtropolus, above) were set up side by side.

    As someone who inhabits both worlds, I was fascinated by the study in contrasts. Both rooms have wireless access, but there the similarity ends.

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    Enter the press lounge and it’s akin to stepping into a public library: about 18 tech reporters are hunkered down at their laptops, sitting around small tables with nary a whisper. A partitioned-off unit with three black modules stands off to one side, allowing for one-on-one interviews. (They’re all empty at the moment.) Stacks of brochuresware and press releases line the room. A coffee stand is set to one side. This, apparentlly, is the preferred habitat of the professional journalist, a recent addition to the endangered species list.

    Bowling

    Immediately next door, Blogtropulus brims with energy and buzz. About five dozen bloggers mill about, chatting up friends and new acquaintances. (I recognize about a dozen folks.) In the back, a line forms at the two chairs where you can lie down for a massage. At the far left, three bloggers in their 20s are taking turns playing virtual bowling on a Wii; one simulates a bowler’s stance, and moments later a bowling ball sails down the lane toward a perfect strike on the projection screen. (Barack Obama, you should have practiced on a Wii.)

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    A video setup with professional lighting sits at the rear of the room, ready for on-camera interviews. Music pumps out of a pair of high-quality speakers, though not quite at party levels. A waiter pushes a portable cart, plastered with corporate logos and sporting a variety of drinks. While about a third of the bloggers sit pecking away at their laptops, most are talking about favorite startups they’d seen or cool sessions they’d attended. In Blogtropulus, the emphasis is on conversation and socializing.

    As I prepare to leave, another former traditional journalist is talking to a friend about the Old Media press room. “It’s like a wake in there,” he says. “Talk about night and day.”

    You can guess which room I spent more time in.

    Tagged: bloggers media press+ web 2.0
    • Thanks for an awesome post J.D. “Stacks of brochureware and press releases line the room” made me cringe. Communications teams should be creating cool, engaging experiences for all members of the press it seems. Why silo off the experience?

    • Ummm, how do you stack brochureware? If it isn’t online isn’t it just a brochure?

    • Gail Robinson

      Yes, let’s trash professional journalists again. It’s nice there was energy and buzz in the bloggers’ room but frankly so what?

      What kind of material came out of both rooms? Which provided more value to readers? That’s what matters. Not whether those pathetic professional journalist drink coffee or who listens to music at almost party levels.

    • Not trying to make this a Gotham Gazette pile on here, but Gail asks a good question. Blogtropulous sounds like fun, no doubt about that, but you don’t say anything about what you thought of the coverage each produced. Isn’t that kind of the point?

      And, am I missing something or is part of the reason why the press room was short on schwag that there are still some journalists who see an ethical conflict in stocking up on delectable sugar pops provided by the companies they’re supposed to be reporting on? It looks like Blogtropulous was crawling with PR whizzes.

    • Excellent questions, Gail and Amanda.

      The point of the post wasn’t meant to be a piling on of traditional media but rather an amusing if telling commentary about rapidly evolving conventions among old media and new media.

      There’s no good way to do an analysis of what each form of media coverage produced other than to go look at each style of coverage and make your own judgment. Blogtropolous was certainly not teeming with PR pros fanning out to influence coverage; that would not have gone down well with the bloggers in the room.

      This post was meant to serve as a snapshot in time to show the differing approaches to media coverage rather than an indictment of traditional media conventions. Readers and journalists will have to make that judgment for themselves as theses parallel media forms intersect and sometimes compete with each other for users’ attention.

      In the end, by the look of things at this one particular tech conference, if I had to guess I’d estimate that the traditional press lounge will disappear in 5 years’ time and the tech journalists will move into a media lounge that is much more Blogtropolous than not. If and when that happens, it’s worth thinking about what (if anything) may be lost if certain media habits and traditions fall by the wayside. Right now it’s too early to tell.

    • I guess I’d still find it helpful to see at least a few links to writing and reporting that came out of the expo. Otherwise it is hard for me to put these contrasts into context. Are today’s newsrooms’ troubles all attributable to the fact that mainstream press work in quiet while bloggers play wii?

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