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Bloggers and Journalists at DAC – Two Years Later

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.



10 Responses to “Bloggers and Journalists at DAC – Two Years Later”

  1. John Donovan Says:

    So, John, do I detect a hoidy toidy attitude here? I used to be a print journalist–like a lot of my friends–until the magazine folded, now I run what I consider an online magazine (products, news, design articles, etc., not just opinion). OTOH you’re a blogger but still have a print book to lend you legitimacy. Do you get to use the press room while I and my cohorts get relegated to a roped-off part of the pit? I need a quiet place to write, too, away from the cacophony of barkers with electret mikes taped to their lower lips. Could I get that if I killed a few trees? ;-)

  2. harry ... the ASIC guy Says:

    DAC Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow…

    About a week ago, I got an email from someone I know doing a story on how the Design Automation Conference has changed with respect to bloggers since the first EDA Bloggers Birds-of-a-Feather Session 2 years ago. I gave a thoughtful response and some o…

  3. jblyler Says:

    Hi John. Ouch … Didn’t mean to sound arrogant. But then we both know plenty of bloggers who are really just consultants – meaning that they blog to get business, not to cover a market, not to provide impartial editorial, etc.

    BTW: I didn’t come up with the idea of separation between the press room and a blogosphere. I’m just reporting it.

    But I think – hope – you’ll agree with me that no journalist would want the press room to turn into an exhibitor’s circus as was the case at the recent Emb Systems Conf. Talk about a cacophony of noise. It was impossible to get any work done.

    For what it’s worth, I plan to spend as much time in the DAC blogosphere as in the press room. Of course, what that actually means is that I’ll spend the majority of my time huddled in a small, dark paneled 10×10 foot room wrestling for air with the other poor soles in the interview rooms. Ah, the life of a journalist.

  4. jblyler Says:

    Harry – You jumped the gun with your blog! I’ll cover the great inputs that you, JL and other sent in next week’s article about bloggers at DAC. I’m really just waiting for a few pictures.

    This week was coverage of the new access conditions and reporting areas between “trad journos” and “bloggers.”

  5. Gary Dare Says:

    JB, there may be bloggers who are consultants showing off their knowledge or capabilities, or those looking for their next opportunity doing similar (count me in that group), but any meaningful input is worthwhile. Whether it counts as journalistic or op-ed (opinion, editorial). I would rather hear a novel observation or an opinion that even disagrees with my perspective, rather than a repeat of a press release … :)

  6. jblyler Says:

    Hi Gary. OMG – please no more rewrites of press releases. Couldn’t agree more!

    Both bloggers and – believe it or not – hardened journalists do have novel observations. Both have a place in the media. Indeed, the former now have more positions than the later.

    I am both a blogger and full-time editor/journalist, so I (hopefully) embrace both viewpoints. But this blog was writen to present DAC point-of-view between these two types of media folks – not necessarily mine.

    Appreciate the input. Cheers. — John

  7. John Donovan Says:

    John, I didn’t mean to snap at you, though I wouldn’t mind a pointer to someone at whom to snap. I think the distinction between print vs. online editors is meaningless, and the one between editors and bloggers–while not non-existent–is hard to define, and any attempt to enforce one is bound to raise hackles, to my mind unnecessarily. Screen out the obvious hobbyists and marketeerrs and let’s go forward from there.

    Enforcing decorum in the press room would go a long way toward addressing the underlying reason for segregating out bloggers; no entry without a press pass or you have a pre-booked interview room. Have separate interview rooms and make people book them in advance. No cell phones or loud conversations in the press room. Have enough room (and electrical outlets, please!) to accomodate demand (like Moscone, not SCCC). In Anaheim, that would mean moving a partition to enlarge the room I used at MTTT-S last week.

    Hopefully the Powers That Be at DAC will take these suggestions under advisement.
    Regards, John

  8. Joe Hupcey III Says:

    [Preface / Disclaimer: I'm in the corporate blogger category -- I blog under my own name for Cadence, as well as support two team blogs for the products I support.]

    Hi John,,

    I have to say I’m surprised that this “blogger or press?” question is still alive. Leveraging Grant Martin’s observation above:

    “Good information is good information no matter who writes it, and whether it is written in some site on the exhibit floor or in some cloistered enclave.”

    In the end, it’s the reading public — end users, CAD managers, executives, analysts, EDA vendor personnel of all disciplines, etc. that will determine for themselves what and where the “good information” is, factoring in/out the risk of bias and quality as they go.

    Regarding the specific issue of separate press vs. blogger rooms:
    While snacks and other amenities are great, as long as there is a quiet place somewhere closer than the hotel with tables & chairs, power sockets, and high speed internet connections, what else do you really need? Ignorant of the sumptuous trappings in press rooms of yore, why not just have one large conference room reserved as a “study hall”, with an adjacent power+networked room for “noisy” activities (like when you need to make a voice call to explain a diagram, have an impromptu conversation with another writer, etc.)

    Finally, inspired by this article, my colleague Tom Anderson today posted “Bloggers and Journalists and Gadflies, Oh My!”:

    He expertly captures the corporate blogging experiences here at Cadence, and my positive feelings about the whole enterprise in general.

    Joe Hupcey III

  9. jblyler Says:

    Hi Joe. Sorry, partner, but I must disagree. Perhaps people still ask this question because it’s relevance hasn’t changed. As both a blogger (before it was called blogging) and journalist, I am acutely aware of each perspective when ever I write – regardless of the “goodness” of the information. Each type of engagement has a very different perspective. The blog is more self reflective. In comparison, the journalistic or editorial approach strives to subsume the author – to represent the story through the words and perspective of others.

    Naturally, the context is also relevant. For example, I don’t expect to see blogs discussing/supporting Synopsys latest tools on a Cadence site. But I would expect such coverage on a publisher site or – occasionally – a blog site.

    These differences are fundamental and will never change. Blogs used to live on the “opinion” pages of newspapers. Now they live online and are open to anyone. This is not a value statement. Rather, it’s a set of working definitions.

  10. John Donovan Says:

    Hi John. This is apparently a conversation still worth having, and I appreciate your distinctions, which I almost accept.

    I agree that the straight opinion piece should remain on the editorial page and that reporters should just report the facts. But it’s more complicated than that. There are always more facts in a given situation than you can report, and your selection of which facts to report necessarily reflects your biases–rather, judgment if you prefer. While reporters try to stay out of their reporting, it’s their judgement and powers of observation that earn the respect of their readers. The same is true for bloggers, who are just more explicit about their opinions. Credible blogs fall somewhere between the front page and the editorial page in terms of content. I personally favor an online magazine format, with straight reporting side by side with various blogs–v. EE Times, EDN, etc. I read Brian Dipert’s feature stories as well as his blog, which is both informative and a lot more fun than his stories–which is as it should be. So I still largely buy your distinction.

    Corporate bloggers have a heavier burden to shoulder, since their biases–or at least their constraints–are presumably up front. Corporate blogging has provided a home or at least a good income stream for a lot of ex-print journalists. I don’t think they sacrifice their credibility when then do this, but they do put it on the line when they become the ‘human face’ of a company and part of their marketing effort. The ones I follow walk that line quite well.

    All said, I don’t see DAC not allowing Tom Friedman or David Brooks into the press room, despite the fact that they’re primarily bloggers (not counting books). I find it pretty parochial that DAC is the only remaining trade show where “bloggers vs. journalists” is still an issue. Just increase the size of the press room (remove a partition) and enforce decorum and this discussion becomes moot. There’s an attitude at work here that I don’t consider to be helpful.

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