Conventional Thoughts
Posted by aogMonday, 30 August 2004 at 19:10 TrackBack Ping URL

I’m not following the Republican National Convention much. I don’t even blame Old Media for limiting the coverage. The problem is that national conventions are the victims of two different trends, both of which re-enforce each other in rendering the conventions uninteresting.

The first is the increasing level of scripting in the conventions. As states compete to have earlier and earlier primaries, the effects of any brokering at the convention disappear into irrelevance. The “gotcha” mentality of Old Media contributes to convention planners worrying far more about not making mistakes than laying out actual policies and ideas. One wonders why these things take a week - couldn’t it be like the Grammies (as long as they drag on) and just lead up to the “best candidate in our party” award? Everyone who now speaks on the off days could just make videos and attach them to the website. That’d be a real convention weblog.

On the other hand, there’s decreasing less need for whatever scraps of information are left in the conventions. Conventions used to be useful for putting out the party’s message in (mostly) the way the party wanted. With the limited bandwidth of Old Media it was important to have at least one week where the party, not the media, had the whip hand. But with the collapse of the Old Media gatekeeping, the convention isn’t necessary for that anymore. The Internet, weblogs, talk radio, cable, etc. all allow a far more (shades of Clinton!) “permanent convention” leading up to the election. The putative event shrinks down to just a big set of parties and in the flesh networking.

It might well be that conventions move to serving just that last function, getting party supporters together in person to network, consult, boost their motivation and/or be rewarded for service. I think we’re already a good part of the way there, which is why decreasing Old Media coverage doesn’t concern me. I’m not sure weblog coverage adds all that much either, but it’s at least more convenient.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Dave Sheridan Wednesday, 01 September 2004 at 02:35

I just think of them as four-day infomercials, and agree that media coverage realistically reflects that. Even the platforms have become largely irrelevant. They also serve a relationship-building function (like any other kind of convention), and probably help make the grassroots folks feel like part of the team.

After Kerry’s “reporting for duty” debacle, there will probably be more emphasis on sucking the last vestige of concrete messages out of the next pair.

End of Discussion