:: Monday, July 26, 2004 ::

A "new" idea for convention coverage
Actually, it's an old idea, but one that hasn't been considered by the news media for some time. That old idea is what was once called "new" journalism, and in the words of a guy named Jay Rosen, it requires a news organization to "[s]end a writer and let the writer find a language adequate to the event."

For his object lesson, Rosen points to the example of Norman Mailer, who covered the 1960 Democratic National Convention for Esquire with such rich writing that it seems refreshing and new all over again.

Consider the excerpt:
Since the First World War Americans have been leading a double life, and our history has moved on two rivers, one visible, the other underground; there has been the history of politics which is concrete, factual, practical and unbelievably dull if not for the consequences of the actions of some of these men; and there is a subterranean river of untapped, ferocious, lonely and romantic desires, that concentration of ecstasy and violence which is the dream life of the nation.

The twentieth century may yet be seen as that era when civilized man and underprivileged man were melted together into mass man, the iron and steel of the nineteenth century giving way to electronic circuits which communicated their messages into men, the unmistakable tendency of the new century seeming to be the creation of men as interchangeable as commodities, their extremes of personality singed out of existence by the psychic fields of force the communicators would impose. This loss of personality was a catastrophe to the future of the imagination, but billions of people might first benefit from it by having enough to eat—one did not know—and there remained citadels of resistance in Europe where the culture was deep and roots were visible in the architecture of the past.

It is just this surface coverage of the "concrete, factual, practical and unbelievably dull" that has made political journalism so dull in recent years (or decades). Rosen includes his own snippets of Mailer's stellar prose but, in the end of his post, cautions that journalists writing on deadline won't be able to come up with anything quite so Maileresque -- nor should they. His point is this: Try something different, journalists. Break free from the herd mentality that enslaves you. "You don't have to do things the same old way. There are other, perhaps even older ways; and they may contain hidden instructions for journalists who feel boxed in by the Conventions and their own conventions for reporting on them. (There are more of these peoples than you think.)"

Maybe the convention bloggers -- like this one (Greater Democracy, which directed me to the Rosen piece -- will bring a refreshing insight to the political circus that the conventions have become. Writing about the Rosen piece, Aldon Hynes of Greater Democracy addresses the power of narrative, which is really what good journalism should be about.
Is the story being told about the convention one that resonates, that is part of one of the archetypal stories, and is a story that the readers feel that they participate in? It ties into the beer primary, who would you rather be swapping stories with over a beer in the backyard, Bush or Kerry?

The typical convention stories do not resonate with most of us, Hynes continues. "The story of 'accepting the nomination' feels very removed from the daily life of most of us. ... Too few people have an experience like that, and part of her campaign is to encourage people to step up and allow themselves this sort of experience. Getting credentials for the convention also has a little bit of a feel of 'accepting the nomination' as well, and perhaps people can think of other examples of being publicly recognized, with great expectations placed upon them, but it doesn't seem to be a story that grabs a lot of people."

Maybe the story of the national conventions isn't even worth telling anymore. Maybe they've become nothing more than political ads, and maybe convention coverage -- by bloggers or the traditional journalists -- will be nothing but conventional. But I doubt Norman Mailer think so. I doubt a writer like Mailer would fail to find a story that resonates, somehow.

:: Andrew 09:17 + ::

bloggedy blog recommends

Save the Net

bloggedy pod (my podcast page)

Independent hotels
in Missouri

Get Firefox!


eMusic's Power Charts: The Most Interactive Music Charts Online.

Never Mind the Bibles

In rotation

What I've been listening to lately. Click album cover or hyperlink to hear track samples and learn more.

Sermon on Exposition Boulevard Rickie Lee Jones, Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

Children Running Through Patty Griffin, Children Running Through

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Tones of Town Field Music, Tones of Town

The Girl Collection De Bossen, The Girl Collection

Robbers & Cowards Cold War Kids, Robbers & Cowards

Carinvore Simon Dawes, Carnivore

Until Death Comes Frida Hyvonen, Until Death Comes

Tratore Basics 2: New Brazilian Rock Tratore Basics Vol. 2, Novo Rock Brazil

Modern Times Yusuf: An Other Cup

Modern Times The Beatles: Love

Two Thousand The French Kicks: Two Thousand

Paper Television The Blow: Paper Television

Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler, Vol. 1 Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler

Beast Moans Swan Lake: Beast Moans

Prototypes Prototypes: Prototypes

Violence Is Golden Scanners: Violence Is Golden

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives Voxtrot: Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

Your Biggest Fan Voxtrot: Your Biggest Fan

Translate Macon Greyson: Translate

Get Evens The Evens: Get Evens

Veruca Salt IV Veruca Salt: Veruca Salt IV

Modern Times Bob Dylan: Modern Times

Look Your Best Pink Tuscadero: Look Your Best

Blue On Blue Leigh Nash: Blue on Blue

I Am  Not Afraid Of  You And I Will Beat Your Ass Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Boys and Girls in America The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America

The Longest Meow Bobby Bare Jr.: The Longest Meow"

Hello Love The Be Good Tanyas: Hello Love

The Lemonheads The Lemonheads: The Lemonheads

Ben Kweller Ben Kweller: Ben Kweller

We Are The Pipettes The Pipettes: We Are the Pipettes

Surprise Paul Simon: Surprise

Sev7en Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners: Sev7en

A Hundred Highways Johnny Cash: American V: A Hundred Highways

For the Best of Us The John Doe Thing: For the Best of Us

Runaway Bombshell The Fondas: Runaway Bombshell

Flat-Pack Philosophy Buzzcocks: Flat Pack Philosophy

Citrus Asobi Seksu: Citrus

The Loon Tapes 'n Tapes: The Loon

2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler Various Artists: 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler (24 free tracks)

News and Tributes The Futureheads: News and Tributes

Zoysia The Bottle Rockets: Zoysia

Let's Get Out of This Country Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country

Bang Bang Rock & Roll Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll

A Blessing and a Curse Drive By Truckers: A Blessing and a Curse

Broken Boy Soldiers The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers

The Life Pursuit Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

The Greatest Cat Power: The Greatest

bloggedy tags

from our sponsors

for your viewing pleasure

the Richard Show

where in the world?

Locations of visitors to this page