It's that time of year again. CPAC is here and therefore, so is, the Original Blog Bash. It's our 4th year and it has grown every year in new and exciting ways. This last year, we added awards BY bloggers FOR bloggers. Andrew Breitbart received the Changing the Narrative Award; he was honored by his peers. This year, we're honoring conservative movies. Another first!
Blog Bash 2013 has a couple constraints we haven't had before and I think you all should know about them so that you understand some of the potentially unpopular decisions that will be made as a result.
First, the conference location is 20 minutes from DC. The logistics of getting people to a party so far away in a timely manner are impossible, so, for the first time, we have to rent a facility. This has significantly added to our costs. On the upside, Blog Bash will be at a Piano Bar. On the downside, piano bars are not cheap to rent out. We considered having the party on site at the hotel but that was cost-prohibitive and the party would have had to end early and that's no fun.
Second, the Piano Bar, while awesome, has a strict fire code. In the case of the beautiful Microsoft location, they had rooms that could be opened and shared. The Piano Bar has limits and we'll be forced to have less people this year than last year.
Third, and this is true every year, Blog Bash is staffed entirely by volunteers. Every good thing that happens at this elaborate production is done by volunteers. It takes over 45 days and hundreds of hours of planning, fundraising, and all from outside DC! Every year, we put our own money into the party HOPING that donors will come through. We are not a think tank or public service org or big business with an annual budget. The variables change every year so we must change every year and often, that means dipping into our own money to pay for this party. This is not something that has been shared or public before. It is, though, something people attending should know. I've had people ask me why it seems so complicated. It's no big deal to throw a party. Oh really? Well, it's no biggie when you have lots of money, a set location, and a staff. We have none of those.
Every year we go from 0 staff and $0 to somehow pulling off the largest gathering of right-of-center bloggers. Every year!
So Why Blog Bash?
Well, this started out as a way to get the self-funded blogger a free meal. Treating bloggers is still the main reason for Blog Bash. We want bloggers to have some food and drink, be rewarded for great work, and to have a time to be honored. Many folks use their vacation budget to come to CPAC? Can you, D.C. insider, imagine doing that? No, you cannot. For many, if not most D.C. folks, CPAC is a business conference and the business is conservative politics. That's great and necessary. Self-funded blogger-activists, however, come for fellowship, to network, and to be revived for going back home to work, unloved and uncompensated, in the trenches.
Blog Bash donors come from every walk of center-right politics. Some organizations that sponsor don't like each other. They pretend for the evening. Some businesses are competitors. They attend and hang out and have fun.
Bloggers get exposed to these organizations, their missions, and to their staff. The acronyms that are confusing if you're outside the beltway become real people. It's great.
Who Gets In?
1. You're a self-funded blogger. As in, you are not on the staff and paid. Places like Townhall and Breitbart are sponsoring (thanks guys!) to help the unpaid bloggers.
2. You're nominated for an award.
3. You're a donor or sponsor. (Note: We are as strict with donors as other attendees. You must have a ticket.)
4. You're an institutional blogger.
5. Anyone else, consultants, operatives, folks with a DC office... This year, if you're fifth on this list, you're likely not getting into the party. This likely means that your spouse won't be able to attend.
These sorts of soirées happen all the time in DC. For the mom and pop blogger? Not so much. And ultimately, that's who this party is for: those who work away, unpaid, and often reviled by their local media and political rivals. This party is for them.
Blog Bash has helped launch careers. It's helped raise the profile of professional, independent bloggers to their peers and beyond. Blog Bash started out as a humble meal and some drinks for bloggers. At heart, that's what it still is.
So if you're one of those people who we won't have room for this year, please accept our apologies in advance. This year, between limited resources, the location, and space constraints, we're going to be doing our best to include all the bloggers and award nominees. It will be a tight but fun fit! (I know, TWSS.)
See you there!
#BlogBash at #CPAC2013