Monday, August 18, 2008

Should News Organizations Cut Down On Convention Coverage?

Posted by Teresa at 11:54 AM
Jeff Jarvis argued this weekend on CNN's 'Reliable Sources' that way too much
resources are given to the nominating conventions. I think he has a good point.
Here's a partial transcript of the interview:

KURTZ: The conventions aren't news anymore. They're only staged
events to get media coverage. That's the view of blogger Jeff Jarvis
and a number of other media critics as well.

And yet, despite these quadrennial complaints, 15,000 journalists are
getting ready to descend on Denver next weekend, and I'll be among
them, for the Democratic convention. Then the hoards will move to
St. Paul for the GOP convention the following week.

So, is all this a waste of precious journalistic resources?

Joining us now, Jeff Jarvis, veteran newspaper man, former critic
for "TV Guide," who now blogs at

So, your message to journalists is just stay home?

JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: Not all of them, but a few
could do the job, I think. We don't need 15,000 people to report a
story that has already happened. That's for sure.

KURTZ: Has already happened?

JARVIS: It pretty much has.

KURTZ: I haven't seen Obama's acceptance speech.

JARVIS: And a camera will do a great job of capturing that and
showing it to us all. And we can all make our own analyses afterwards.

KURTZ: All right. Let me take the other side.

You say these conventions are totally scripted and drained of any real
news. It's hard to argue with that these days. But, for example, won't
a significant story at the Democratic convention be the degree to which
Hillary Clinton supporters are willing to embrace Obama, especially
now that she's won the right to have her name placed in nomination?

JARVIS: There are stories there. But Howie, how many people can do
these stories? It's the same story done over and over and over again.

Why are they going? Ego. We have our person there.

Well, the byline means nothing to the reader, I think. And it really
indicates, I believe, a more fundamental cluelessness to the management
and stewardship of journalism today.

Newspapers are shrinking. TV stations are shrinking. They have less

Is this the best use of this resource, especially in an era where we're
shifting to a kind of link economy in news, where the best coverage
The Washington Post's coverage, CNN's coverage, is only a click away?
So, do you really need to have the Omaha person there next to the
Nebraska person there to report the same story we're all watching
on CNN and C-SPAN? KURTZ: So you think that the reporter for
the Omaha paper or the Miami paper or the Kansas City paper, you
name it, are essentially irrelevant because the big boys are there
with their cameras and their notebooks and their big circulation?

JARVIS: Yes, and...

KURTZ: Kind of condescending.

JARVIS: No, it's not really, because what are they going to really
add? It's the same as -- let's say we're covering golf, right? Does
every paper have to have their own golf columnist? Does every
paper have to have their own movie critic?

We've had this argument before. I would say no.

The real question though, is, what's the best allocation of those resources?
They are scarcer. They are more precious. We have fewer reporters.

That person is better staying in Omaha, doing the story in Omaha.
If you want to find out what's happening in the election, talk to voters.

KURTZ: By the way, you dismiss the notion of covering the local
delegations. I actually did that once in 1980 for "The Washington Star,"
and I worked my butt off for four days. I agree, you don't need 30 people
to do that, but, you know, your governor, mayor, members of Congress
going to the big convention is a significant story.

JARVIS: But you can also see them at home right before they go and
do this walkup story. You don't really have to be there.

You can read more of the interview of here.
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