Monday, July 26, 2004

Convention coverage

I'm more interested in the conventions this year, I think, than ever since I started voting. It's not just the issues, though the issues are big enough, because the conventions have always (within my adult memory) been more about obscuring the issues than presenting them.

It's because there's a whole new group of people covering them, people with wide eyes and strong opinions, who are surprised to be there and interested in everything that goes on.

Jay Rosen from NYU captures the mood:
No one knows what a political convention actually is, anymore, or why it takes 15,000 people to report on it. Two successive regimes for making sense of the event have collapsed; a third has not emerged. That's a good starting point for the webloggers credentialed in Boston. No investment in the old regime and its ironizing. The blogs come at this fresh. I'm going.

He's also got a brief history of how the conventions came to this pass, how the organizers, the networks and the press developed a dance that none of them apparently thinks is very important, except for its ability to lock us rubes out.

Well, the bloggers are rubes like me (sorry, folks, I mean that as a compliment), and just as I'd rather hear my friend tell me what it was like instead of Ted Koppel, so I'm happier to hear the funny, irreverent, opinionated voices of the blogosphere telling me what's really going on.

In the meantime, the conventional media pull a pickle face. Tom McPhail of the University of Missouri Journalism School sniffs that bloggers are "certainly not committed to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo.'' Bloggers ''should be put in a different category, like 'pretend' journalists."

As if journalists, by and large, were committed to being objective. The truth is, they've just persuaded themselves that their opinions are objective.

I think journalism professors ought to be put into a category of "pretend" professors, because what they teach could be learned with a two-year associate degree; what journalists need is substantive knowledge about the world, instead of how to fashion press releases into feature stories and "hard" news.

Anyway, I'm collecting convention blogs in my blogroll, identifying them with a descriptor of "DNC blogger." It's an evolving list; I'll be adding more and cutting out as I see fit. If you're interested in seeing what's out there for yourself, here's a DNC news aggregator.

UPDATE: OK, I know, Jay Rosen is a j-school prof, too, but he's still more interested in his topic than in preserving his turf, which makes him a better educator than McPhail.

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