By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Denver? I thought they said Danvers.

For the first time since 1992, I’m not going to either major political convention. In 1996, I covered the Republicans in San Diego. In 2000, I covered both the Republicans in Philadelphia and the Democrats in Los Angeles. And in 2004, I covered the Democrats here in Boston.

I have two conflicting thoughts about my absence from both conventions this year. On the one hand, I’ve never understood the argument that there’s nothing going on. Yes, it’s true that the conventions haven’t actually picked the presidential and vice-presidential nominees for many years now. But, for two weeks, the conventions are the center of the media-political universe. Why wouldn’t you want to be there?

There’s not much happening inside the hall. Outside, though, there are events ranging from parties thrown by various media organizations to demonstrations to substantive, issue-based get-togethers such as Arianna Huffington’s counter-conventions in 2000. A reporter who’s willing to keep moving can find more interesting stuff going on in a week than usually comes his way in a year.

On the other hand, if you think what’s taking place on the floor is what’s really important, then there’s no better place to be than in front of your television, popcorn and beer at the ready. It’s a TV show, so why not watch it the way it was meant to be seen?

I’m not planning to overdose on convention coverage this week or next, but I’m certainly going to catch the major speeches. And, truth be told, my colleagues in Denver will probably be watching them the same way I do — on the tube. Only they’ll be in a press tent and I’ll be home.

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  1. Esther

    I always loved watching the roll call of the states. And back in the days when I wanted to be a political reporter, I always dreamed about covering a convention. But you’re right, they’re basically tv shows now. You’ll be much more comfy on the couch, I’m sure! I’m really looking forward to seeing Michelle tomorrow, to see how the handlers have packaged her kinder, gentler image. I bet she’s something fierce as a public speaker! (And I mean that in a good way).No matter what happens, I think Obama has a tough climb. Too many people still think he’s a Muslim and don’t realize that Hawaii is a state.

  2. Tony

    Or Esther, he may not be eligible after all … hah!, you’re main point is quite correct. They are a TV show at this point … TV shows the networks don’t bother to air! And, yeah, there is a ton of stuff going on outside the conventions. So, why not be there?

  3. Peter Porcupine

    DK – so far, I’ve gotten invites to schmooze with both Phyllis Schlafley AND Christie Whitman! At the risk of getting ideological vertigo – why WOULDN’T you go?Conventions haven’t picked nominees for 20 years – they are this year what they have been, pep rallies for the party faithful. Ironically, this year may come closest to a real floor fight in many years on both sides. And Minneapolis is WAY cheaper than NY! :~)

  4. Aaron Read

    Coming at this from the other side, here at WEOS we’ve pretty seriously tweaked our broadcast schedule for the next two weeks; largely eliminating any music programming (we don’t have much, 4-6 hrs/day) and expanding DemNow, adding three hours of NPR conv.coverage, and adding two hours of OnPoint every day.I’m VERY curious to see what our listeners think of the coverage. It’s a little on the overload side, this is true, but I’ve long suspected (and have some evidence towards) that our listeners WANT more flagship NPR/PRI/Pacifica shows and less music/fringe news/info shows.That reminds me…got to jiffy up some promos asking listeners for feedback…

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Just to be clear … I’m not going for two reasons: (1) I am no longer a full-time journalist, and no one is paying me to go; and (2) I’ve got to get ready for classes. It’s not like I chose to go in the past, then chose not to go this year.

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