Thursday, March 30, 2006

# Posted 11:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG FINALLY GETS INVITED TO A CONFERENCE CALL: It seems like the cool thing for bloggers to do these days. If you haven't been invited to do a conference call with a senator or a party chairman, then in the blogosphere, you're nobody.

So, special thanks go out to the folks at Foreign Affairs who decided that OxBlog deserved a chance to participate. The occasion for the call was the release of a new study about Americans' confidence in their government's foreign policy.

The study was done by Public Agenda, an organization founded by celebrity pollster Daniel Yankelovich. Yankelovich gives an overview of the study's results in this essay from the May/June issue of FA.

The call lasted for around 45 minutes and began with some short remarks, first by Yankelovich and then by FA editor Gideon Rose. Then came the Q&A. There were seven or eight journalists on the call, most of them from wire services. I'm pretty sure the list included the AP, UPI and Reuters.

I was the only blogger, although there was one journalist on the call named Gary Farber, who is apparently not that Gary Farber, because when I said "Hi, Gary!" he didn't respond.

So, the real question running through my mind during the opening remarks was how much deference I should show to my journalistic colleagues. Should I let each of them ask at least one question before I have a go at it? Or if I think I have something important to ask, should I just go for it?

I was also curious whether the questions from the pros would conform to the expectations I've built up about the media already having a fixed narrative in my mind about foreign affairs. Actually, I thought the pros' questions were fairly insightful and challenged Yankelovich on those aspects of his essay that fed right into the Iraq-as-quagmire narrative, specifically his major finding that Americans have little interest in active democracy promotion.

What did surprise me were how few questions the pros had. After the second one, there was a long enough silence for me to feel comfortable jumping in without seeming pushy. Then there was a really long pause after question five or six, so I asked another question. And then the call was over.

Personally, I could've gone on for a while. How often do you get to talk to pollsters with as much experience as Yankelovich or thinkers as influential as Gideon Rose?

But I guess there wasn't really much news, and what reporters want is news. In fact, you could've figured out from the get go that there wasn't much news because none of the first-tier papers sent anyone to cover the call. (Or do they get to have private calls that we don't know about?)

So there you have it folks. OxBlog has been initiated into the cult of the conference call. I look forward to many more. Maybe next time I'll even talk about the substance of the discussion instead of rambling on about myself...
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

I've never been invited to be on a conference call; I am nobody.

But the notion that there's a journalist running around with my name is both news to me, and a tad disturbing. It's particularly peculiar that this is the first I've heard of it.

I mean, I'm perfectly willing to share, mind, but I'd kind of like to know if I need to start using my middle name, and such.

Thanks for the heads up. And maybe someday someone will ask me to be in on a conference call.

Don't start middle-initialing just yet. Perhaps I misheard the man's name. What if it was Garber? It's never easy to hear things precisely on a conference call.
When I was a wee lad, I'd occasionally be asked if I were related to the radio guy, Barry Farber. And I'd have to explain that, no, no relation was I.

On the playground, I was, of course, called "Fairy Garber" while being mercilessly beaten up.

I shall continue to benignly neglect my middle name as long as I can, while continuing to be nobody.

Someday I hope to even return to frequent blogging on my own blog, though.

It would be "Gary M. Farber," by the way. The sekrit revealed!
Not "Milhouse." Just so we get that out of the way.
Just got an e-mail from one of the conference call organizers. The other guy's name was Gary Feuerberg, of the Epoch Times.
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