To Be Official or Not To Be Official: That is the Question.
Recent discussion regarding the notion and nature of "Official" bloggers for genealogy events has caused some ruffled feathers and a few nasty hen-pecks in the yard.
I've been blogging since 2007 and writing about conferences, seminars, and other genealogy events whenever I attended something I wanted to share. I have been an "Official" blogger for a few events, but mostly I have acted in an "unofficial" capacity.
As a former newspaper reporter, I tend to think in terms of the 5Ws even while an event is unfolding around me. The old pyramid-style story is often framed in my mind before I get to my keyboard. Blogging about conferences and other genealogy experiences comes almost more easily than writing about my own family history. So, why have I bothered to request "Official" status at events rather than continue in an unofficial capacity?
It all comes down to access. And every journalist worth his or her pencil wants to get the inside scoop on breaking news to share with her readers. Conference officials hold the key to that inside story, and they need the media to help spread the word. In the old days we used to get a "Press Pass." Sometimes you wrote a story, sometimes you didn't. It was all considered PR and part of doing business. That "Official" Press Pass to Disneyland made me the envy of my high school friends, but no one beat me up over it.
Be Glad Clark Kent and Lois Lane Are On The Job
Bloggers serve much the same purpose as an old-fashioned press corps. By using "Official" status, a conference or seminar can more easily distribute news to a group of "information vendors." Novice reporters wisely use their event access to get noticed by a target built-in audience, thereby increasing their own visibility. Experienced reporters can be relied on to see an event in the context of other similar events over many years; consider that a lack of articles is as much a critique of an event as a blasting commentary.
I've never been particularly good at writing nasty reviews. I've preferred, instead, to heed my mother's advice, "If you can't say anything nice. . ."
I don't plan to cover all facets of upcoming National Genealogical Society conference in Las Vegas. It would be impossible. An old-fashioned press corps would divide some of the "beats" among several reporters to insure all areas were covered. And, if Official Bloggers want to work out some "unofficial" NGS news beats, I am all for collaboration.
I do plan to keep an eye on what my fellow NGS 2013 Official Bloggers are writing about the event. I don't want to simply rehash what's already been said, and it may be tough to find a fresh angle with nearly two dozen bloggers reporting throughout the conference.
I may not write a dozen articles about NGS 2013, after all, I am attending the conference because I want to hear the speakers and sessions, but you can be sure that what I do write about will be honest and timely. Official or un-official.
[My two cents.]