Saturday, August 11, 2007

Was Joel McNally there?

Jessica McBride and a few of her students are attending the National Association of Black Journalists' convention. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton received standing ovations for their speeches to the convention, Obama more so. McBride comments,

He got a bigger one than she did. Not everyone stood. But most of the room stood and cheered for him at the end of his speech, and part of the room stood and cheered for her at the end of hers. In addition, the crowd was overwhelmingly positive throughout the speeches, murmuring approval when the candidates bashed Bush, the war, or Republicans, and cheering during the speeches. At the end of the speeches, many people clustered around for photographs and to shake hands with the candidates, as if they were rock stars.

I thought I was at the Democratic convention, not a convention of journalists.

Columnists and other pundits often take a position on the candidates because, well, because they are pundits, so if they stood and applauded, it wouldn't be any different from what they do on the airwaves and in their columns every day.

But columnists and pundits were not the only people in the audience. Rather, the audience also consisted of the executives, reporters, anchors, and producers who are influential in shaping presidential news coverage.

Les Payne, columnist and editor for Newsday, had suggested to the crowd yesterday before Hillary spoke that they should forgo standing ovations for either candidate.

That message was largely ignored.
I will disagree with Jessica on one point. I think opinion columnist journalists should refrain from standing and applauding as well, but then I have a rather quaint view of things.

If I were in a smart-alecky mood I would remind the reporters, editors and opinion columnists in the room of what they read in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. But then I doubt there would be any would-be Stephen Daedalus in a room full of members of the National Association of Black Journalists.