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A weblog by Laura Moncur


Being a “Blooger” at CES 2008

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Self Portrait Wednesday 01-30-08 from FlickrFor the last three years, Mike and I have been covering CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) and posting stories about it on our blog, The Gadgets Page. We pay money out of our own pocket to go there. No big company sends us there. We take care of our own travel and lodging the entire time. We are beholden to no one as far as covering CES, unlike many members of the press who are sent down by their newspapers, television studios or radio shows. Even worse, some of them are sponsored by the very companies they are supposed to be impartially reviewing.

It has been almost a month since CES 2008 started. Experience has taught me to let things settle for a bit before I rant about them. I’m ready to rant now. 2008 marked the first year that CES made a distinction between “real” press and bloggers by issuing Blogger badges.

Being a

There was a separate Blogger Lounge, which was literally a mile away from the main floor. I measured the distance with my Nike+, and it was a mile of walking between the “real” Press Lounge and the Blogger Lounge. That was a sort of slap in the face, but the guards allowed bloggers into the “real” Press Lounge and vice versa. This made the the Blogger Lounge an abandoned haven of quiet, which I actually appreciated and needed when the din of the showroom floor got too much for me.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/19428171@N00/2231272152/ from Flickr

Walking to the Blogger Lounge really showed me how much they loved us, however:

Of course, when I reviewed the paperwork they had sent me, I FULLY understood how much they loved bloggers:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/19428171@N00/2231272152/ from Flickr

Not only were we a segregated class of lowly bloggers, they didn’t even bother proofreading their materials. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of the “Blooger Services” while I was there. At least they got our badges right…

There were some advantages to wearing the Blogger badge instead of the Press badge (like I did the previous two years). In the International halls, we weren’t attacked by the people manning the booths. We were able to look at everything without the companies desperately trying to get some “press.” Ironically, I can probably give them FAR more press than the tech editor of some po-dunk town newspaper, but I was glad to be able to see things without being bombarded.

I am continually surprised at how many times I was asked, “What’s a Blogger?” I bit my tongue and turned my laughing face away when an old-school Press-badge wearing codger asked Mike that very question. Mike, the saint that he is, patiently explained that we write technology stories on the Internet. More often than not, it was someone minding a booth in the International Hall asking what a blogger was. By the end of the show, we had a short and friendly response to the question.

All of the feelings of being a second-class citizen was painful. It just reminded me that we have so much further to go.

And then Gizmodo pulled their TV-B-Gone Prank and I hung my head in shame.

The teeth-grinding part of this situation is that the Gizmodo guys had “real” Press badges. I watched a few of them bragging about their shiny red badges when we were at the show. The worst part of it all is how much the Gawker blogs bragged about this incident. Even after a month of cooling, I feel such an anger at Gawker Media for embarrassing me and my profession. I want to see all of Gawker Media banned from CES next year, not just the guys who were involved with the prank.

The saddest and most pathetic aspect of this whole year at CES is the realization that Mike came to the first night that we were there. All the Hilton Convention Center employees had been given instructions to treat us nicely. CES had gone out of their way to set up lounges for Bloggers that had wi-fi. Last year, there was no wi-fi in the Press Lounge. Mike and I really got the impression that they were trying to be NICE to us, despite the segregation. Then, Mike had a flash of realization.

CES gave us separate Blogger badges because they wanted to BRAG about how many bloggers were at the show.

They were trying to prove how hip and up-to-date they are. It wasn’t meant as a kick in the gut. The CEA wasn’t trying to create a second-class press badge. They were actually trying to help and accommodate us. They were PROUD of how many bloggers they had and ended up insulting us all, despite all their well-intentioned efforts.

That realization makes the prank that Gizmodo pulled even MORE insulting. It makes us look even more unprofessional. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes even more difficult for a blogger like me to get into CES.

Lots of people asked me what CES was like this year. I’ve shrugged my shoulders and bit my tongue for a month, and even after that long, I’m still embarrassed, angry and shamed.



  1. Since moving from the journalist side of the table to the PR/flak side, I’ve discovered that the best way to find out if a PR/Communications/Media Relations gal is good at her game is to ask the blogger question. If they indicate AT ALL that blogs and internet media are less important that mainstream press reporters, they’re not as up-to-date, educated, savvy or trend-aware as their competitors.

    I know as a blogger it still feels like a “second class” status, and to some people it is, but it’s changing quickly. Largely because more PR flaks are learning the hard way that ignoring bloggers can have devastating results for your product/service/cause.

    Comment by Jere — 1/31/2008 @ 11:37 am

  2. After our kickoff year with the bloggers badges at the 2008 CES, we are already hard at work planning to make bloggers feel more welcome at the 2009 CES. Obviously we learned a few things, and will work even harder to make sure that bloggers at CES have an even better experience at the 2009 CES. We’d love your ideas on what we can implement for next year.

    Comment by Tara Dunion — 2/1/2008 @ 8:57 am

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