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CNN hopes blogging is election-night blessing

An event aimed at getting instant reaction from online opinion makers is but a part of cable channels' efforts.

October 30, 2006|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Who says the mainstream media don't respect the blogosphere?

CNN is trying to incorporate bloggers directly into its coverage of next week's midterm elections by inviting them to an "E-lection Nite Blog Party," an event aimed at corralling some of the top online opinion makers in one place to provide instant reaction as the results come in.

The cable news network plans to host more than two dozen bloggers from across the political spectrum -- including sites like RedState and Daily Kos -- at a Washington Internet lounge where they can monitor the election returns on a slew of flat-screen televisions. (Each blogger will get his or her own monitor, which can be tuned to any channel.) There will be free wireless access -- and plenty of food and beverages, natch.

CNN Internet reporters Jacki Schechner and Abbi Tatton have been assigned to cover the gathering and provide regular updates on the air about the topics that are generating the most chatter.

"Bloggers are leading the conversation," said David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief. "You could argue that most of the political dialogue in this country is happening online, so if you don't incorporate that into your coverage, you're missing a major element."

Subscribers to CNN Pipeline, the network's broadband service, will be able to monitor the happenings at the blog party through one of the online channels, which will be dedicated exclusively to footage from the event.

The blog party is just part of stepped-up political coverage already dominating cable news channels -- and their companion websites -- in the days leading to the election. Nationwide campaigns have historically driven up ratings for the cable networks, and executives hope this year will be no exception.

Fox News is kicking off a week of campaign coverage today with interviews of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who are sitting down with Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto, respectively. On election night, FoxNews.com will feature an election tracker that will allow viewers to monitor specific races on a customized Web page, with updated results every two minutes.

For its part, MSNBC plans to devote all of its daytime programming to politics this week. Candidate profiles are available on MSNBC.com, along with an election map that highlights the key races around the country.

Even business channel CNBC is jumping on the political bandwagon. On Tuesday, the network is airing a series of special reports about economic issues expected to affect the vote.

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matea.gold@latimes.com

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