That’s what I kept asking myself, and I wasn’t alone. Other members of the Birmingham bloggers’ group who’d registered to cover the conference were also considering what they might write, if they should right anything. Why were they there?
I know why I was there. Because I was invited.
It a huge occasion and I’m delighted I went. One blogger has described this invitation to local web folk as a charm offensive. Well charmed I have been. Partly by the warm and relaxed welcome from Rishi Saha, the Conservative’s head of social media, but also by the sheer scale and energy of the event. It is the first conference in Birmingham I’ve found with such a huge fringe. Events leach into the rest of the city centre. One massive conversation, much of it in very high heels.
It is also the only conference where it is not just up to us as a city to make a good impression. Sure we need to be our normal hospitable self, but equally the Tories need to make a good impression on us.
I’ve been to Conservative party conferences before as a BBC political reporter. I’ve covered huge events in Birmingham – notably the G8 conference. That was easy. I knew my job was to tell the overall story – the mainstream consensus. If possible I should also find an exclusive something – but that something still had to satisfy a mass audience – or rather the editors who judge what interests that audience. This time it was harder.
Then it dawned on me why a blogger should got to any political party conference: to write about the things they normally write about.
My niche is that curious overlap between active citizenship, citizen journalism, social media, mainstream journalism and local government.
It is a mishmash of a place and any party conference is riddled with material that fits my normal area of interest. Oddly this only occurred to me late this afternoon.
Tis the fringe stupid: Bloggers are perfectly suited to one particular part of a major conference – the fringe. It is there the fit happens, the wider the range of blogging interests present the greater the depth of coverage we will get from these events.
So tomorrow I’ll be back to share a story or two and hopefully they will be the things my normal readers want to to read.