Thousands of journalists descent upon political conventions

By SAIRA SUMBAL

At the center of news reporting about a political convention is the need to provide the public with up-to-date information and analysis of events taking place.

Underlying coverage of a convention is also providing an analysis that explains how the events of the convention will play a role in shaping the outcome of the election.

However, it seems as though coverage of conventions is like a competitive family of major news outlets from different platforms coming together, setting up their tents, and going camping together. Only instead of fishing, they may be more concerned with how Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood’s speech made Republican presidential nominee Romney more “hip,” as a candidate, or how the Democrats will push for their “forward,” messaging at the Democratic National Convention.

In fact, it has been reported that 15,000 journalists will be present at the Republican National Convention.  As we get closer to the Democrats’ convention, it is fair to ponder that a similar number will be present, too. As a young journalist, I question whether a surplus of journalists is really necessary to cover such an event where “news” is unlikely to happen.

As a journalism student, a major tenet taught to us is that we must provide the public with information that is pertinent to their interests. This lesson is often introduced to us in an introductory class and we repeatedly hear it throughout our academic careers. However, is it pertinent to the public’s interest to provide it with an overwhelming amount of information on the same topic? And not just once, we roll the same coverage continuously.

I understand that the concentration on providing news digitally and through other platforms plays into how news organizations cover conventions.  Also, I understand that as news organizations, you want to have as many of your people on the ground in case real news does occur. But at the center of a journalists work, is serving the public and we’re not serving them when we send talented journalists to cover an event that will already be covered.

Everyone is attempting to get a piece of the pie, and that is a major part of journalism’s culture. And it’s fair, because at the end of the day, news organizations are also businesses, and they have a duty to accrue profits. But maybe, it is also fair to conclude that by investing all of our energies into major events like conventions, we are instead missing out on other news that we normally would cover.

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