Sunday, May 07, 2006

Blogging the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

One of the reasons I decided to begin blogging again was a recent assignment from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The newspaper asked me to write a blog from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I've attended the festival umpteen times over the last umpteen years or so and I have the t-shirts to prove it, so it was a natural. I went to the first weekend of Jazzfest, as it's called by locals and devotees, and posted blogs and digital pix at the Herald-Trib's arts/entertainment blog site, called twentyfour7.

Overall, it was a great experience, although it was a wee bit of a drag having to sacrifice even one minute of my precious fest time for some time spent in the fest's media tent. There, several computers with online access were made available to working journalists. The Internet connection, though, was somewhat spotty -- the connection kept being dropped. I did the bulk of my blogging back at my hotel room, in between the daytime music at the Fair Grounds and the nighttime club shows.

Is blogging the best way for a daily paper to cover the fest, or other major arts/entertainment events? I'd have to say that it's a great component of fest coverage, and the immediate gratification was great for writer and (I hope) audience alike.

The results aren't in yet on the number of unique page visits, but I certainly alerted a lot of my friends, music-journalism colleagues, and "threadhead" pals I've encountered online at the Jazzfest's chat board. I also picked up a couple of shout-outs from a couple of fellow bloggers, including Professor M. (not to be confused with Professor X), a former office mate in the USF English department and an awfully intelligent guy who writes about film noir and other topics at a site titled The Flexible Generalist; and Mrs. Professor M., a music teacher and flutist who makes her thoughts known via a site called The Bee-Loud Glade.

Still, the fest is so large and significant that I think it deserved coverage in print, at least by way of a wrap-up story, along the lines of what Edna Gunderson wrote for USA Today or what Jon Pareles wrote for The New York Times. And, for some readers and editors, the only coverage that "counts" is the print coverage.

That said, I was thrilled to again cover the fest again for, an Internet destination that reportedly gets buku traffic. Online content doesn't live forever, or does it?

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