A Foreseeable Risk of Substantial Disruption

Thursday was a bad day for me. I received an email from a media watchdog organization declining my job application. I received an email from the DNCC declining my application to be a blogger at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and I received a copy of the Second Circuit of Appeals decision to uphold the District Courts denial of the Doninger’s preliminary injunction motion. Yet all of these tied together into a fairly consistent theme.

In the rejection letter from the media watchdog organization, I was told that they “needed someone with more traditional journalism experience”. I can see why they say that. They are a fairly traditional watchdog organization. It is important to them that their watching of the media does not create any substantial disruption of the media landscape.

The rejection letter from the DNCC didn’t give any reasons other than that “Several hundred great blogs submitted applications.” It suggested that I check out “The Big Tent” organized by “DailyKos, ProgressNow, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and the Wright Group… with some of the most well known faces in the non-profit and political world, as well as food, drinks, entertainment.” I’m not sure that well known faces and entertainment being gatekept by people making their name by writing about crashing gates is going to bring about any substantial disruption.

In 2004, bloggers at the Democratic National Convention in Boston were a substantial disruption, at least to the media narrative. People wanted to talk with and about bloggers about how they were changing the media landscape. Subsequent research found that the bloggers, myself included, didn’t really bring about any substantial disruption in the media landscape, but at least coming into the convention there was a foreseeable risk that that might occur.

Many great blogs have been credentialed this year and the Democrats have chosen to have a blog credentialed to sit with each State delegation. This could bring a whole new perspective on the convention, creating a new foreseeable risk of substantial disruption, but I worry that it may not. It may be just part of the new generation of political media, the new boys on the bus.

I’ve often commented about blogs being passé. They are so 2004. “New Media” is being replaced by “Social Media” and I wonder how much the bloggers of 2008 will have moved beyond 2004 style blogging. What role will streaming multimedia, microblogging and lifestreams fit into the picture? That may be where the real potential for a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption of the political media process exists this time.

All of this takes me to the Doninger case. The Second Circuit wrote that “Because Avery’s blog post created a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption at LMHS, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion. We therefore affirm the denial of Doninger’s preliminary injunction motion.”

The substantial disruption that Avery’s words in the blog post are accused of creating a foreseeable risk of, is citizens in the school district getting more involved the school and thereby in the community.

I disagree with the court that this sort of ‘substantial disruption’ is something the existing political structure should be protected against. Instead, the ability to create this sort of ‘substantial disruption’ is exactly what our Constitution is supposed to be protecting the right of each of us to participate in.

The candidate at the Democratic National Convention most likely to become the Democratic Party Nominee for President is running on the slogan “Change We Can Believe In”. We are most likely to see a candidate at the podium who says, “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington . . . I’m asking you to believe in yours.”

This candidate has brought many new people into involvement with the political process, similar to how Avery worked to get more people involved in the politics surrounding her high school.

So, I am frustrated. Unlike Barack Obama or Avery Doninger, I am not managing to generate a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption to current media and political status quo. Yet looking at the successes of Barack Obama and Avery Doninger, I continue to have hope that I may yet contribute to such substantial disruptions.