It was a mere two years ago when the first Birds of a Feather (BoF) Blogging session took place at the Design Automation Conference (DAC). The event marked one of the first “official” meetings between traditional journalists and the growing number of bloggers in the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) chip industry. It was not a cordial meeting. Each group knew about the other’s existence but didn’t seem to appreciate the other’s challenges or point-of-view. (Previous blogs cover those “interesting” times.)
Today, the editorial landscape has greatly changed. Many of the long time technology journalists no longer write for publishers, but for the corporations they used to cover. While the number of journalist in publishing houses have dwindled, the number of bloggers have soared. Sean Murphy, one of the drivers behind the first BoF blogger’s meeting at DAC in 2008, estimates that there will be 500+ feeds for EDA related bloggers by 2011.
To their credit, the organizers of DAC have evolved in the way they deal with journalists and bloggers – both independent and corporate. The initial problem DAC faced was how to evaluate bloggers in terms of their number of readers, areas of coverage, background, and bias. Over time, these questions more or less answered themselves, as certain bloggers gained readership and focused into definable technology niches.
The next hurtle that DAC faced was a logistical one, namely, should bloggers be given press credentials and allowed into the press room? It turns out that the answer to this question follows directly from a more basic question; What is the purpose of the press room?
Press Room or Blogospher
To answer this question, Michelle Clancy, the current PR Chair for DAC, talked with several well-known EDA journalists. They told her that the press room was traditionally meant to be a relatively quiet place where editors and journalist could go to write their stories, i.e., meet their deadlines. It also provided a reserved environment where journalist could share impressions, topic ideas and the like with their colleagues, away from the pressures of exhibitors and even sponsors. Of course, the press room was also a place of sustenance – plenty of caffeine and carbos.
For these reasons, the press room was physically removed from the exhibitor floor. Further, press rooms were off-limits to exhibitors.
But constant access to exhibitors is exactly what most bloggers want. “The majority of their (blog) coverage over the last several years has been exclusively on exhibitors,” notes Clancy. In addition, bloggers don’t face the ever present pressure of daily deadlines.
All of these factors suggested that bloggers didn’t need a press room as much as a blog space located on the show floor. That is why this year’s DAC will introduce the “Blogosphere” for Independent Online Media/Bloggers. Located on the show floor, the blogosphere will include a “relaxing, quiet lounge with quick access to the exhibit floor,” Internet access with a workspace and beverages – among other things.
In addition to tailoring the different environments – press room and blogosphere – DAC will also issue separate badges. Traditional journalists will continue to receive a press badge. Bloggers who have met the media requirements will receive an Independent Online Media/Blogger badge. Different badges will help exhibitors and customers know to which group they are talking.
How have these proposed changes been met by both journalists and bloggers? That will be the topic of next week’s discussion. Regardless of the reaction, one thing is certain: There will be more bloggers than traditional journalists at DAC this year and for the foreseeable future.