The Brooklyn Blogfest is going back to basics.
This year’s annual gathering of the borough’s blogerati will be a decidedly low-key event — an obvious reaction to last year’s debacle, which featured a self-promoting appearance by non-Brooklynite Spike Lee, plus a sponsorship deal with Absolut Vodka, which was pushing a grotesque green-apple–flavored “Brooklyn” spirit.
The resulting blog-lash prompted organizer Louise Crawford to retool her May 12 event at the Bell House. Indeed, bona fide blogger Jeff Jarvis will be the main attraction.
“I can understand why last year was problematic,” said Crawford, who writes the Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn blog. “It’s just a fine line you walk when you have a sponsor — how do make it that the sponsor doesn’t inadvertently take over an event where it feels like it’s an advertisement, as opposed to just a behind-the-scenes support of the event?’ I would chalk it up to a learning curve rather than bad motives or selling out.”
So this year’s Blogfest will feature its usual video tribute to photo bloggers and special interest break-out groups. And keynote speaker Jarvis, who covers media and news at buzzmachine.com, will talk about monetizing blogs.
“With Jeff being a keynote speaker this year, I think it’s back on the right track,” said John Loscalzo, aka Homer Fink, who oversees the Brooklyn Heights Blog.
That’s positively a rave from Loscalzo, who last year unleashed his bloggers on their biggest quarry ever — another blogger.
“It was like trying to get backstage at a Justin Bieber concert,” Loscalzo’s told us after last year’s blogfest. “With access being so hard, I think people made the association, ‘Oh, they got a sponsor this year, and it’s impossible to get in — who do they think they are?’”
A back-to-basics approach could ease some hurt feelings, but it won’t ease the pain attendees will feel in their wallets: No sponsor means a $15 admission fee and a cash bar versus last year’s free admission and open bar.
But that’s how it was at the very first blogfest six year ago at the Old Stone House.
Not that having a sponsor wouldn’t be nice.
“If a sponsor did come along, I wouldn’t be adverse to discussing it and playing with that idea,” said Crawford. “It’s always a help.”
Brooklyn Blogfest at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510], May 12 at 7:30 pm. $15. For info, visit www.brooklynblogfest.com.