And yet, over the last decade networked media have opened the production of political discourse to an incredible range of new social actors, from social movements to ordinary citizens. The 2000 conventions launched the independent activist news platform IndyMedia and raised the question of who counted as a legitimate journalist. In 2004, in recognition of the growing resource base of partisan bloggers and in a challenge to professional news producers, the parties began formally credentialing their most fervent supporters. In 2008, the parties expanded their credentialing further, providing opportunities for a host of non-legacy media to cover the event, including bloggers, advocacy organizations, and new media journalistic outlets.

These dynamics suggest that parties, movements, partisans, and the professional press view conventions as important sites for public political communication. Despite this, very little is understood about how these actors interact to produce political discourse.

Our study will examine how parties, the professional press, and the new actors in the public sphere interact to produce narratives of the 2012 presidential election. We’ll be comparing differences in coverage between professional journalism organizations such as The New York Times and FOX News; blogs such as Daily Kos and FireDogLake; new media journalistic outlets such as The Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo, and allied Democratic interest groups such as labor unions and advocacy organizations. We will also conduct interviews with these producers to elicit how they understand their new media production and audiences. One of the great things about this research is that we are not sure what we are going to find, but we suspect that interaction among these various outlets, both in terms of content flows and coordination behind the scenes, is a large part of the story.

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Andria Krewson is an independent journalist in Charlotte and a student in the University of North Carolina's master of arts in technology and digital communication. She worked at The Charlotte Observer for many years. Find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/underoak or http://twitter.com/akrewson.