Anyone who wonders why so many members of the general public think journalists are putzes will find an explanation of sorts in "Media No Fan of Protest Neighbors," in the June 26 Denver Post.
According to the piece, "National media representatives are upset that an area designated for protesters during the Democratic National Convention is right next to press tents on the Pepsi Center's grounds. They fear too much noise and commotion and the threat of tear gas if demostrations get out of hand." This point is underlined by comments from Associated Press reporter Andrew Taylor, identified as "chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which represents congressional reporters on Capitol Hill." Taylor says, "Imagine trying to do your job with hundreds of people screaming, blowing whistles, beating drums and trying to get the attention of the media... This is basically insulting."
Sure is -- but not in the way Taylor seems to think.
Conventions are carefully managed affairs whose organizers try to make sure there are no surprises -- and one way of doing that is to regularly feed approved info to the assembled press. Good reporters try to seek out stories beyond these prepackaged nuggets, but they know an army of aides is ready, willing and able to provide lotsa content should they come up dry. Talk about a comforting safety net.
In contrast, the protests that are expected to take place around convention time represent some of the few unpredictable elements of convention week -- the very sort of thing the press should champion. But no: Taylor, who told the Post he plans to file a protest with the city over the press' placement, seems more interested in a peaceful working environment than in being in close proximity to potential news -- which is the reason the media is coming to Denver in the first place, I thought.
Guess that means we should expect blanket coverage of all convention events except the ones that are noisy and/or smell bad. It's moments like these that I'm proud to be a journalist. -- Michael Roberts