If you read many blogs, you will find lots of posts on Blogher '09. Apparently, there is always controversy of some sort and this year was no exception. However, I heard rumors about these going-ons, but I was never in the middle of the hub-bub, so I don't have anything to add. It seems that some people are not very polite when free things are involved. (Let's face it-- some people aren't very polite regardless of what's involved, yes?) I'll let you do your own searching on that and you'll find plenty to read.
I happened into the "Leadership session", just because it sounded more intriguing than the other offerings. I am so glad-- it was by far the BEST of the entire conference.
The session was run by Catherine Orenstein, who is involved in the OpEd Project (www.theopedproject.org). In short, the OpEd project is about getting women's voices out into the mainstream of debate, since most debate in newspaper's OpEd (Opinion/Editorial) pages, on television and in our government is dominated by men (about 80%). So the OpEd Project was started to teach woman how to get their voice out there on whatever they are passionate about. It is obvious how this would apply to a woman who is passionate about a political cause, like health care, for example. But what intrigued me is how applicable this is to anyone who has something important to say and wants to be heard by a larger audience. (Of course, important is in the eye of the beholder, but that is part of the lesson as well-- how you make it important to other people.)
The phrases that came up that really stuck with me included:
"gateway to public conversation"
"no one owes us their attention"
"starting a conversation instead of ending one"
"evidence-based short form argument versus rhetoric"
"the difference between being right and being effective"
The first session focused on what gives a person credibility (you know, that stuff they scroll under the pundit on CNN). The attendees all came up with the obvious: degrees, high-powered positions, being published. The most overlooked component was personal experience. And think about how powerful personal experience is. (And we all have it, yes?)
The second session focused on how you would write a piece that would appeal to a forum that reaches people. Catherine was careful to explain that this is not specific to newspapers, it applies to any forum that has readers-- blogs and webzines as well as traditional media. And what intrigued me is not just how this applies to media outlets, but how it applies to writing in general. If I wasn't so old, I might just go get a journalism degree!
Those two sessions were just a glimpse of what is offered in the OpEd Project seminars, offered around the country. All of the points covered in the seminars are also listed under Resources on their website. It will make you think, about all sorts of things.
And you can read the transcript of the entire session on Blogher, if you would like.
Next post on BlogHer '09, I might make a little lighter.