Breaking with convention(s)

I thought I was unshockable, but the news that there were 15,000 accredited journalists at the DNC took me aback. It leads one to ask: where’s the value they add? The answer is: nowhere. This was brought home very forcibly when I was able to watch Bill Clinton’s entire speech on YouTube — and then compare it with the little soundbitten excerpts relayed by the mainstream TV channels. Now that I can see this stuff for myself, I don’t need media folks on extravagant per diems to ‘interpret’ it for me.

Jeff Jarvis feels the same and has written a great column on the subject. Sample:

Nothing happens at the conventions. They are carefully staged spin theatre. The only reason for all these journalists to travel to Denver and St Paul is ego. They feel important for being there and their publications feel important for sending them. But their bylines matter little to readers.

We simply don’t need all their coverage of the conventions. Thanks to the internet anyone, anywhere, can read the best coverage of the top few news organisations. On Google News you’ll find thousands of articles devoted to the same stories, most telling us little we didn’t know or couldn’t have guessed. Go to YouTube or network sites and you can watch the speeches yourself.

Footnote: in the 1980s I covered some of the UK Party Conferences and observed, with astonishment, the size of the media contingent. The BBC, for example, usually sent about 120 people. And, in those days, most of the Corporation’s senior executives came down for a day or two to “sniff the air”, as it were (and stay in the most expensive hotels). It was ludicrous even then but conceivably could be justified because it was the only way of transmitting the proceedings to the public. But those days are gone.