How Politico’s Patrick Gavin owns convention coverage, from 900 miles away

Nobody’s covering members of the media in Tampa this week like Politico reporter Patrick Gavin. He’s been tweeting “rules” for covering the convention that, as my boss showed yesterday, most journalists at the RNC are following.


But Gavin is typing away inside Politico’s warm and dry Arlington, Va., HQ, not sweating out Isaac’s landfall in Tampa. “I’ve got a 1-year-old so I’m not too keen on multi-day departures from D.C.,” Gavin said over instant message. He went to both major party conventions in 2008 and believes “to be honest, a lot of the Convention Coverage Rules/Traits are pretty common outside of conventions, too (posting pictures of one’s newsroom, work environment, TV hits, etc.). So not all of them are convention specific.”

Gavin’s tweets capture the essence of a number of…personality quirks common among members of the media, so I thought it was appropriate to ask if he actually likes journalists.

“I like journalists fine enough, but do find a part of the culture pretty funny (and to be fair: I wouldn’t exclude myself from having done plenty of the things I mock with these rules),” he said. Conventions, he said, “are the Super Bowl for exhibiting that kind of reporter-specific behavior.”

Would he behave any differently if he were in Tampa?

“I’d probably be walking around taking pictures of Wolf Blitzer like everyone else,” Gavin said.

Related: How reporters can beat the convention-hall wisdom (Dan Kennedy) | Earlier: As RNC kicks off, journalists debate ‘optics’ and coverage (Poynter) | Tampa prepares for 15,000 journalists coming to RNC (Poynter).

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  • Kenneth Conway

    Gavin Coverage Rule #18: What’s important is not that he’s there, but that nobody else knows that he’s there.