NEW YORK – More than 30 independent Web journalists have been accredited to cover the Democratic convention, and the Republicans said Friday they'll also credential so-called bloggers (search).
It's the first time bloggers will be joining the thousands of newspaper, magazine and broadcast journalists at the quadrennial presidential-nomination events.
The Democrats initially invited an additional 20 bloggers to their July 26-29 party in Boston, but later rescinded those approvals and blamed a computer gaffe. That prompted complaints of unprofessionalism and favoritism.
Convention spokeswoman Peggy Wilhide said the approval letters that went to the disinvited had been generated by mistake.
Anticipating criticisms that decisions were ideologically based, Wilhide said only two of the 20 credentials rescinded were for "right-leaning" blogs. She pointed to the approval of at least one "right-leaning" blog, Oxblog, though the co-founder who applied, Patrick Belton, is a registered Democrat who considers himself centrist.
Meanwhile, Republican convention spokesman Leonardo Alcivar said Friday that the GOP, too, will credential bloggers — likely 10 to 20. He said Republicans still were crafting the procedures and guidelines for their Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering in New York City, but won't reject bloggers based on viewpoint alone.
Some 200 bloggers had sought credentials for the Democratic convention. They were screened for their originality, readership level and professionalism, convention officials say.
"Some blogs posted like once a month, so obviously those aren't going to qualify," Wilhide said.
But ultimately, Democrats had to make some tough choices.
For traditional media, both big political parties generally rely on rules established by committees of journalists for getting passes to cover Congress. No such procedure exists for blogs, and convention staffers had to review each blog and apply subjective criteria.
Belton, 28, a doctoral candidate in international relations at Oxford University, said he was "tickled pink" when he learned by phone Thursday he had been accepted. (Notifications were sent by postal mail, but Belton said he hasn't checked his mailbox in days.)
"It will be great fun to participate in the symbolic first convention of the blog," said Belton, who said he's now "trying to scrape the pennies together" for a flight from England.
Bill Ardolino, on the other hand, said he's now out nearly $1,000 for hotel and travel booked after he received an approval letter Tuesday, a day before he was disinvited by e-mail.
"I certainly have the suspicion that it's because of the nature of my site," Ardolino said. "The whole thing is unprofessional. They've really messed up what could have generated a lot of good will in the blogosphere."
Wilhide would not release a full list of the approved bloggers, but said they included the Democratic-leaning Burnt Orange Report, Daily Kos, Pandagon.net and TalkLeft. Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.com also confirmed to The Associated Press that he had been accepted.
Bloggers will have the same access as traditional journalists within the FleetCenter convention hall, Wilhide said. And bloggers will join radio journalists with workspace in the FleetCenter itself, while other media will be in nearby buildings, she said.
Democrats also will host a breakfast for bloggers on opening day.