- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

PHILADELPHIA Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III took his first spin through Internet Alley at the Republican National Convention yesterday it's the hottest new thing in media coverage of the convention.
In 1996, the Internet was in its infancy and barely had a presence at the conventions. AOL and a few other pioneers were the only ones there.
This year, that has changed.
There are 35 new media organizations registered with the convention. The biggest of them www.pseudopolitics.com, www.aol.com and others have their own media booths inside the First Union Center, right alongside the big television networks.
And in the broadcast journalists' tent, there is Internet Alley, right next to radio row.
Forget impressions of screens of scrolling text. The basic technology now is a Webcast, which is the same as a television broadcast but transmitted over the Internet. The top-of-the-line sites allow users to customize their convention coverage by choosing which audio or visual feed they want.
Yesterday Mr. Gilmore talked with www.mediabureau.com, www.yahoo.com, aol.com, www.washingtonpost.com, www.grassroots.com and www.abcnews.com. He has dozens more dot-com interviews lined up for the rest of the week.
At mediabureau.com, Mr. Gilmore sat on a Victorian couch next to a kitschy lamp, while the interviewer sat in what can best be described as a throne, an armchair with plush mustard-yellow cushioning. In the 15-minute Webcast, the host asked Mr. Gilmore about the future of the Internet and Internet taxes.
"They're more technology centered questions," Mr. Gilmore said. "Outside of Internet Alley, people are concerned about the traditional issues of taxes, education, Social Security, whether the Republicans are leading. Inside, it's not only an interest in how the industry is forming, but also sort of a much more creative idea of freeing of people, empowering of people, the privacy of people."
Donald W. Upson, Virginia's secretary of technology, is the director of new media for the convention or the "e-convention manager." He said, "This is not about computers and wires. It's about a medium reaching millions of people every day, on their terms."
Still, not everyone at the convention recognizes the medium's potential.
Some politicians skip Internet Alley altogether. They imagine a scene where they are sitting at a keyboard typing, or they conclude the audiences are too small.
But others are adept, even comfortable, with the format. Mr. Gilmore is the most prominent among them.
"My goal has been to make Virginia the Internet capital of the world, so naturally I'm interested in the success of Internet Alley here," Mr. Gilmore said.
Gov. Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts is also making the rounds of the Internet booths, and Sen. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico made Internet Alley his first media stop at the convention.
Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley, who is running for governor in 2001, is conducting nightly on-line chats from his own campaign Web site, www.markearley.com.
Traditional news outlets aren't ceding anything to the new media folks, however.
Mr. Gilmore's interview with BusinessWeek was broadcast on its Web site, and the major networks and newspapers, including The Washington Times, are referring viewers and readers to their Web sites so junkies can access fresh news at any time.

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