August 04, 2004

Political UnConventions in the News? 

In a marvelous oped in The New York Times, republished (with no login required!) on the Free Press web site, Alessandra Stanley argues for even more media stagecrafting of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. And she takes to task the major TV networks for treating the things as political spectacle, and poor ones at that, rather than as opportunities to engage people with political ideas. It is true, as she says, that if you wanted to view the DNC you could find it. At least on cable. But she misses the "unassailable authority that a network anchor brings to convention coverage." That would be, um, the likes of Dan Rather? I'll agree with Ms. Stanley that we need more political coverage in general. You might find this astonishing as I did, but during the 2000 election the major TV news programs devoted an average of 74 seconds per night to election coverage, and about half of that was coverage of campaign strategy. Ideas? Political and social issues? Not entertaining enough, we'd rather see Ben Affleck throwing baseballs to Katie Couric in Fenway Park. Or would we? Personally, I'd like to be able to listen to or view the entire convention, all the speeches and even the reports from the state delegations. I found them quite rowdy and entertaining...at least those few seconds the networks aired, in the background, while some nitwit reporter posed silly questions to a panel of annoying analysts. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I wanted the media professionals to get the hell out of the way and let me see what's going on for myself. If I could search for specific speeches or sections of the conventions I'd be even happier. Gee, maybe we could use the web for that! Who edits this thing? Oh yeah, I do. Better get to work!

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