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Citizen Voices

As my TV shifted from round-the-clock sports to round-the-clock politics this past weekend, it also did something else.  It lost my interest.

I understand the need for party conventions.  I'm fascinated by them, in fact.  Politics is face-to-face talk, back slapping and hand shaking, not policy memos and staff opinions.  Decisions need to be made, and conventions are where that's done at the highest level.  Deals will be struck and compromises will be reached.  There may even be some hurt feelings.  But that's not what's being covered.

Network coverage of the political conventions has been like watching coverage of a major sporting event, except the on-air personalities are spending all their time interviewing the fans and cheerleaders.  Fluff over substance, like trying to live on a diet of cotton candy.  Feels good in the short term, but probably not the most fulfilling option available.

Want to make it newsworthy?  Embed a camera back stage.  Get some fixed cameras in place in the back rooms and wait for the fireworks, a la CBS' Big Brother.  Find an issue that's actually in contention and cover both sides of the debate.  But don't show partisan speeches and "voting" that's a foregone conclusion and call it news.  It's as much of a farce as the so-called "Live" coverage of the Olympics was last week. 

Alma from San Diego
August 27, 2008 at 07:04 PM
I find myself wanting to read more blogs than watch the actual convention about what is happening back stage, as you suggest. While it's not the same as watching video, the sensory impressions of the non-delegates and attendees is much more visceral and interesting to me. Otherwise, the script of the speakers just gets over analyzed. Should be interesting to see whether the Republican convention chooses to respond to the Dem convention, or is going off an entirely separate script.

Chuck from Escondido, CA
August 27, 2008 at 08:20 PM
I think the substance of both conventions is much better suited to text-based reporting and analysis (I'd say print media, but does print include the internet?) than to the talking heads of network television. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the networks won't try and get in there with gavel to gavel coverage. I think the Republican convention could be the more interesting of the two, if only to see how they're going to address the last seven years as a party.

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