Archive - May 11, 2010

The Unexpected Nomination

What makes something newsworthy? I pondered this when I learned that bloggers attended the Democratic Third Congressional District Convention last night, but was told that none of the major newspapers sent reporters to the Democratic Third Congressional Convention in Seymour last night.

Others joked with me that you could fairly safely and easily write your report about the convention ahead of time. It almost looks like that is what the New Haven Register did for their article, DeLauro gets nod to seek 11th term in Congress written by ‘Staff’. Eugene Driscoll of the Valley Independent Sentinel wrote a much better article, Dems Nominate Rosa For Eleventh Term, including video and information you could only get at the convention.

It seems as if what makes something newsworthy for larger newspapers is something unexpected; if there is conflict or blood, even better. Conventional wisdom is that it is what sells newspapers, and that is what their business is. Whether it is good for democracy is a different question. Indeed this focus on conflict seems to make debate in Washington less likely to find the best solutions to issues our country faces. People wanting to get their side of the story into the news need to focus on the conflict and not the resolution.

Congresswoman DeLauro does not seem to play those games. Instead, she toils day in and day out to seek real solutions to our nation’s problems. The first four nomination speeches focused on problems with healthcare in our country. Retired railroad employee Claire Phelan spoke about the problem with the donut hole for seniors. Yale student Michael Gocksch spoke about the concern students graduating from college have about being able to maintain health insurance. Small business owner Joseph Bango spoke about the difficulties the health care system has created for small businesses, and cancer survivor Melissa Marottoli spoke about how pre-existing conditions have limited the opportunities for cancer survivors and others. There was nothing new or unexpected in these comments. Anyone who has been paying attention has heard them before.

When Congresswoman DeLauro took the stage to accept the nomination, she said, “I am proud to serve in a Congress that made health care reform a reality.” She put it into the context of doing her job, “It is what it is all about…transforming the lives of people of our great nation”, and she spoke the “reminders of the fundamental decency of the people of our district”. “Fundamental decency” is something that, unfortunately, has come to be unexpected in media coverage of politics.

So, if the traditional formula for news coverage doesn’t work, perhaps we need to look at other formulas. One is the “human interest” story. Congresswoman DeLauro did a good job on this part as well. She recognized the accomplishments of her mother, who served as an Alderwoman in New Haven for 35 years and taught Rosa to expect more out of life. She recognized her husband who celebrated his birthday by attending her nominating convention. She recognized her children and her grandchildren, as well as Ian and Jaimeson Lamb and Anna Saccente who led the Pledge of Allegiance. These children are great reminders about what life is really all about.

The traditional news stories about conflict and the unexpected have led to Congress having a very low approval rating. Yet when we focus on the human interest side of the story, we find something else that is unexpected, a woman that loves her job, works hard for her constituents and is greatly respected. Perhaps these are the stories that we need to hear more of.

(Cross posted at MyLeftNutmeg.)

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