Media and the Political Conventions
Jay Rosen teaches Journalism at New York University, where has been on the faculty since 1986. He is the author of PressThink, a weblog about journalism and its ordeals, which he introduced in September 2003. In June 2005, PressThink won the Reporters Without Borders 2005 Freedom Blog award for outstanding defense of free expression. In July 2006 he announced the debut NewAssignment.Net, his experimental site for pro-am, open source reporting projects. The first one was called Assignment Zero, a collaboration with Wired.com. A second project is OfftheBus.Net with the Huffington Post.
Question: How can the media more effectively cover the political conventions?
Jay Rosen: I think, it’s useful to see the conventions as a gathering of the news tribe to which the parties are also invited. They’re actually more media people there than delegates, for example. That even closer and it’s like 15,000 to 2 or 3,000. And I think that their, the problem is not that there’s too many journalist there, it’s that the ideas that they bare, that they bring with them are just too impoverished. So, the whole notion of the [horse race] press is that we’re going to tell you who’s going to win, figure out who’s doing better and explain to you how the campaigns are trying to win your vote. But this is something that we would be able to observe on our own if we didn’t have a press trying to tell us who’s going to win and how are they manipulating us for their vote. We would learn that anyway. And so, if not so much that 15,000 people are going is not too many and there isn’t a better things they could be doing, that’s true but it doesn’t explain very much. The real problem is that they go there with such an impoverished question. If their intention was to tell you who the Democratic Party actually is in 2008 and they went in there to find out and told you as best we can determine this is who the Democrats are. If they wanted to answer, where do the democrats stand on executive power and in foremost by doing the saturation and [IB] exercise or other, well, that would at least be an idea, right? So it’s more than that. It’s that… the problem with the [horse race] press is that it is completely in low with its own agenda [listness] and advertising its agenda [listness] in a sort of endless succession of reports, but we already get that message. Bryan Williams looks into the camera and his ads that run on New York, he says, “I’m not for any particular candidate. I’m for New York.” And I want to say to him, “You know Bryan, I get that. I get that already, you know, you’re not rooting for anybody. You’re not trying to elect the Reds or the Blues, but you must have something better in mind for me than just that.”
Recorded on: 08/19/2008
Jay Rosen on how the media could actually make coverage of politics interesting.
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