I teach two classes — mass communication and news writing — at UNC-Chapel Hill. They are filled with inquisitive, bright and focused students. Some want to be journalists, some want to go into a communications-related field, some are in other disciplines and some are undecided.
I asked both classes if they were paying much attention to the Republican National Convention. A few said they were. I asked if any were watching it on television, either cable or the one-hour network programming. Zero response. It’s not that they are especially disengaged, although school has just started and many are involved in sorority rush. They simply get so little of their information from TV news. That’s close to what’s happening outside the walls of academia, too, according to Reuters.
“But the biggest problem for the Republicans was less the hurricane and more dwindling interest in convention-watching by the general public, experts said.
“Isaac is sucking out a lot of the oxygen but that’s because there wasn’t much oxygen in the first place,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. “Voters and certainly the media are aware these conventions have become hour-long infomercials. There is very little suspense.”
Makes you wonder why the networks even bother. Supposedly, 15,000 journalists are in Tampa and the same are expected in Charlotte for the DNC. Imagine the stories those journalists could be doing if they weren’t covering “informercials.”
I do like the fact-checking that news orgs are doing on the convention speeches. But now that the networks know they are broadcasting so many lies and deceptions presented as truth, shouldn’t they classify the conventions under “entertainment programming?” Or, better yet, tell the two parties that if you continue to disseminate disinformation, you can do it on someone else’s airwaves.