Breathless emails have been pouring in over the past few weeks about how various alternative weekly newspapers are planning on covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. But if Day one is any indication, we're in for a lot of bloggy check-ins from staged parties instead of anything even mildly critical.
Among the most-watched alt blogs is Demver by Westword in Denver, which has been updated throughout the day. There's a lot of party blather (the drinks and dancing kind) and celebrity spotting, but also a report about protesters being arrested.
Duncan Black, or Atrios of Eschaton fame, got some hype for submitting copy to the Philadelphia City Paper Clog staff blog, but his contributions there have been limited to some pretty standard observations about accommodations and Google's Big Tent facility. Expect to hear more about the latter, which has been set up as a sort of bloggers' H.Q. in Denver.
More worth the effort is Mike Ludwig's work for the Athens News in Ohio, which contains this winner:
Upon arriving in Denver Saturday night, I'll admit I didn't have much of a plan. I ended up crowd surfing at a punk show, drinking a bit and waking up the next morning on the back patio of some anti-war protesters I didn't know. Then I went to a rally featuring Dead Prez.
Ludwig proceeds to check in with some residents of Denver who are uneasy about the ramped-up police presence.
Also exemplary is the effort from The Stranger in Seattle, whose Slog compiles regular updates from at least three writers on the ground in Denver, not to mention regular posts from editor Dan Savage. Seattle hip-hop stars Blue Scholars also lend a hand and do a little on-the-scene reporting from another protest:
The riot squad lines up, facing the rabble. The rabble refuses to budge. Bystanders watch, cameras in hand. Someone throws a bottle at the police but they stand down. With the police/protester ratio heavily favoring the state, the crowd intuitively disperses, but not without a few tense moments.
Finally, The New York Times comes nowhere near qualifying as an alt weekly, but media columnist (and current media darling/author) David Carr used to edit a couple (the Washington City Paper and Twin Cities Reader), so he qualifies, particularly when doing excellent video work in his guise as The Carpetbagger. The Bagger explains how covering the convention is a lot like his other job, reporting from the red carpet during Oscar season, and proceeds to chat up a few delegates.