Belmont University announced today that the university’s New Century Journalism program will host BlogNashville, a three-day multi-part conference on journalism, blogging and the emergence of the new citizen-participatory journalism, in May 2005, along with the Media Bloggers Association.
In the past two years, bloggers have played a key role in holding media and political figures accountable, including former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott over his racially insensitive remarks about Strom Thurmond, former New York Times editor Howell Raines in regard to the Jayson Blair scandal; exposing John Kerry’s “Christmas in Cambodia” story as a lie, and, most recently, the “RatherGate” media scandal in which bloggers exposed the forged documents at the heart of a 60 Minutes II story about President Bush’s National Guard service, a story CBS later retracted. Also, last year, bloggers were invited to cover both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention, and Time magazine even selected one blog, PowerlineBlog.com, as its first-ever “Blog of the Year” for its role in RatherGate.
“Blogs and bloggers are playing an increasingly prominent role in media criticism, politics and campaigns, and even in grassroots journalism, bringing video and personal accounts to the world from the recent tsunami disaster in Asia, for example” says Bill Hobbs, online media writer and blogging coach in the office of University Marketing and Communications at Belmont University. “BlogNashville will bring many of the new medium’s top practitioners and thinkers to one place to discuss the current and future of blogging.”
Belmont University is the first university to have purchased a universal site license for blogging software from MovableType, a leading blogging software provider, and uses blogs as internal communications and external marketing tools.
BlogNashville will include:
● A Computer-Aided Research and Reporting “Boot Camp” for members of the Media Bloggers Association, sponsored by the Media Bloggers Association. The two-day boot camp, May 5-6, will provide media bloggers with an overview of and specific skills for computer-assisted research and reporting.
● A Blogging Panel Discussion, geared toward the local news media and public relations industry, on Friday, May 6 – sponsored by the New Century Journalism program at Belmont University.
● Blogger Conference Tennessee, May 7, which will follow the “unconference” format developed by Dave Winer for the BloggerCon events at Harvard and Stanford in which the audience is the panel and a moderator will facilitate discussions on a variety of topics including blogging and journalism, faith-blogging, making money blogging, blogging technology, blogging and the arts, legal issues in blogging, and much more.
A selection committee has been established to gather suggestions for specific topics and discussion leaders for BloggerCon Tennessee. The committee includes:
● Glenn Reynolds – University of Tennessee law professor and writer of the hugely popular and influential blog Instapundit.com.
● Robert Cox – editor of TheNationalDebate.com and founder of the Media Bloggers Association (www.mediabloggers.org).
● Ed Cone – a senior writer at Ziff Davis Media, writer of an opinion column for the Greensboro (S.C.) News & Record, and a journalist who has written for Wired, Forbes and other magazines and newspapers. Cone maintains a personal blog at www.edcone.com
● Bill Hobbs – online media writer and blogging coach, Belmont University. Hobbs, a former Nashville journalist, maintains a personal blog at www.billhobbs.com.
● Dr. Sybril Bennett, executive director, New Century Journalism program, Belmont University.
The Growth Of Blogging
Recent data released by the Pew Internet and American Life project showed some astounding numbers on the growth of blogs:
● 7 percent of the 120 million U.S. adults who use the internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary – more than 8 million people.
● 27 percent of internet users say they read blogs, a 58 percent jump from the 17 percent who told Pew they were blog readers in February. What that means is, by the end of 2004 some 32 million Americans were blog readers. Much of the attention to blogs focused on those that covered the recent political campaign and the media. And at least some of the overall growth in blog readership is attributable to political blogs. Some 9 percent of internet users said they read political blogs “frequently” or “sometimes” during the campaign.
● 5 percent of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online, an indicator that the RSS application is gaining an impressive foothold. The interactive features of many blogs are also catching on: 12 percent of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs.
The Freedom Forum, WKRN-TV and Hammock Publishing have generously offered to help underwrite some of the costs of BlogNashville. A website, www.BlogNashville.org, has been established to provide additional information about the event, and will be updated as new event details are confirmed. Registration will commence in early March.