Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conventional News? .....

This post by Eric at Fire Ant Gazette, and the ensuing discussion, got me to thinking about what does - and does not - merit news coverage these days.

The discussion began with Eric's observations of television news broadcasts from this week's Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado ... and included a question from one of his readers about why such events are broadcast in the first place.

Good question ... at least in the context of what these national political conventions have become ... which is quite a bit different from what they once were.

And it's not just the conventions that are changing, but the campaigns leading up to those conventions, as well. Remember earlier this year, when McCain became the Republicans' "presumptive candidate" and some Democrats were worrying about the negative impact of the ongoing debate between Obama and Clinton? At the time, I found myself wondering if an extended campaign - one that might go all the way to the convention before it's resolved - was necessarily a bad thing. In my own humble and uninformed opinion, I suggested, it might a good thing, at least from a news journalist's perspective. And in the long run, it might be good for news consumers, as well.

In recent years, political parties have bemoaned the fact that news networks don't devote the time to convention coverage that they once did. It's true, they don't ..... though not necessarily for the same reason suggested by the party leadership. There's nothing like an early, quiet end to the primary campaign to take away just about any news value to the convention ..... 'So-And-So' has officially received the party's nomination for president? ..... well, duh ..... wasn't that settled, for all intents and purposes, in April?

A decision early in the primary campaign means that, by the time the national convention comes along, all we are left with is essentially a week-long un-paid political announcement, carefully crafted and scripted for news consumers ..... a PR sheep in news wolf's clothing.

It hasn't always been that way ..... you don't have to be as old as me to remember when the national convention could easily become a rough-and-tumble, raucous affair where the candidate, and planks of the party's platform, were yet to be settled. "Ohio passes," anyone?

Me? I don't expect any surprises from either major party, and probably won't be watching the broadcasts that much. For me, the real drama kicks-in just a couple of months from now, as voters select the next President of the United States. Who will it be? I don't know. I'll be able to say better on November 5 ..... or later, if the State of Florida disagrees with the results this time around.

Until then, let's talk women's beach volleyball, how about?

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