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Bloggers Work – And Socialize – Inside Denver's "Big Tent"

(DENVER) A few blocks from the Pepsi Center on Tuesday afternoon, about a hundred bloggers were gathered inside "The Big Tent," a two-story, white tent set up for bloggers to use during the Democratic National Convention.

Jen Bruenjes, a contributing editor at the liberal blog Daily Kos, one of the tent's three primary sponsors, said about 500 bloggers had been credentialed to work out of the space; they paid $100 for the privilege, and in exchange got two meals a day, free wi-fi ("a bigger wireless network than the Denver airport," Bruenjes said), free beer, and the company of their peers.

"We did this to create a resource for bloggers and new media," said Bruenjes, who did much of the work to organize the tent. "The feedback that we got from 2004 was that much of the convention stuff was actually really boring. And we wanted to create a place where we could gather and work and mingle."

(CBS/Brian Montopoli)

The convention's host committee, she said, welcomed the effort to set up the tent.

"It was a relief valve for them," said Bruenjes. "They didn't have the resources to accommodate the number of bloggers that wanted to come to Denver."

Josh Kalven, a blogger with Progress Illinois, said the situation for bloggers in Denver was a substantial improvement over the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004.

"The degree of blogger access and hospitality towards bloggers definitely exceeds the last time around," he said. "It's definitely a testament to the way the medium pervades the political debate. "

The majority of the bloggers in the tent are liberal, though Bruenjes says there are a handful of conservatives credentialed. On the second floor, there is a stage set up where speakers hold court each day, discussing topics like the importance of independent journalism.

Cary Wilson, who blogs at Democratic Underground under the name Hissyspit, compared the Big Tent favorably to the blogger lounge set up inside the Pepsi Center area – where there wasn't working wi-fi access when he visited yesterday.

"The Big Tent's great," he said. "It's kind of a central working point. It could be bigger. But it's a rather happening place. You meet lots of fellow bloggers, and get tips on where things are happening."

As for the efforts of the Democratic Party to accommodate bloggers at the convention, Wilson echoed the prevailing attitude in the room.

"I think they've come a long way," he said. "And could go a lot further too."