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You only have to pump the words “why conventions matter” into Google News to realize a counterintuitive take on their worth is overdue. Brendan Nyhan says the reason you see so many people deriding conventions as “infomercials” is they make it much harder for members of the news media to step between message and voters:
In every other aspect of the campaign, the candidates and their messages are filtered through journalists who are reticent to allow them to speak or be quoted at any length without interpretation or analysis. … Unlike the debates, which are moderated by journalists, the conventions allow the parties and the candidate to speak to voters unfiltered in prime time.
That hasn’t stopped journalists from trying, writes Bill Keller, who says conventions “are tedious, scripted events matched and surpassed in their shallowness by the ceaseless chorus of commentary supplied by my tribe.”
Jeremy W. Peters checks in on media coverage of the convention and finds “the new media has decided that it wants to be the old media, and the old media has decided that it wants to be the new media.” The Huffington Post and Bloomberg are hawking magazines; The Washington Post and The New York Times are splashing out on Internet video, which they (privately) concede “draw extremely low traffic compared with their articles.” Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris describes its video effort as “kind of groping cheerfully with a sense of fun and experimentation.”
Some journalists are finding news to cover: “An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said ‘This is how we feed animals,’ ” Kyle Leighton reported Tuesday night. In a statement, CNN confirmed “there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon” and said it “worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.” Read more