NEWS BLOG (WSAU) You will read dozens of commentaries about how political conventions are dinosaur events and should be scrapped. Yes and no.
There is a value to having all of a political party’s movers-and-shakers gathering in the same place. Party platforms DO mean something. A stellar convention speech can launch a political career (just ask then-senator Barack Obama). It is politically valuable to allow the nominees to officially put an end to the primary and nominating process, and to give them a chance to introduce themselves to voters in their own words with a widely-covered speech.
But I won’t bemoan the TV networks for cutting back on convention coverage. Broadcasters don’t have any obligation to take off their own highly-rated money-making primetime programming to put on a political marketing event with much narrower audience appeal. The conventions are tailor-made for cable-news channels, where people who care about these things can watch them. Eventually, the conventions will lend themselves more to live streaming video – where people can pick and choose exactly what they want. (Imagine if you really care about, say, farm policy, or abortion, or states rights – and you can actually watch the platform committee while they’re debating those issues. You’d only see that through a streaming video service; it doesn’t have broad enough appeal for even Fox News or CNN to cover it.)
I’m fine with broadcast TV convention coverage being limited to the candidates’ acceptance speeches only. It hasn’t been cut back to that point yet. It may be in four years.