The political zoo keeper’s dilemma.

One of the difficult dilemmas facing you when organizing a major political convention, is keeping the news media in their cages, fed, watered and occupied. As mother used to tell us, the devil finds work for idle hands.

The media gather like vultures for the event. And the greater the challenge the party faces, the harsher are their observations. The organizers live by the adage that whatever goes wrong is supposed to. The party apparatchiks, who really make things happen, check everything constantly.

But the party prima donnas, chosen for their political potential, will try to force late and unnecessary changes. You are in constant conflict with people who have no interest in understanding the logistics. You are responsible for the news media and what they say. ‘Just get us good coverage.’

My goodness, why do you think the e-mails leak happened when it did? Timed for that hiatus between the conventions, the news media needed anything. They called for the chair of the Democratic National Convention to resign. Why? Did she leak the e-mails? She might have done an absolutely fabulous job of chairing the convention organization and the news media could care less. They pilloried her.

A national convention in the United States is an expenditure of many millions. It is four days of glitz, glamour, gluttony and guts. The arena is ringed with media boxes to provide them with the best view of the death throws of the political gladiators.

A good rule for the spin doctors of the party is to always have something for the news media to chew on. If there is no positive story available at 8 am, you had better create one.

As the party primaries in America have taken over the task of choosing the candidate for the party, the party conventions have become more and more a showcase for the candidate. The convention committee has had to stand down while the candidate’s team takes over. This can cause some acrimony and sometimes when something goes wrong, you wonder about its spontaneity.

But some things never change. These conventions develop a life of their own and delegates compare notes on them over the years. While the traditional news media might be giving way to social media, the spin doctors of the party just end up with a bigger zoo to look after.


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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