The “democratic process”
Last weekend’s Liberal convention, coverage of which dominated every newspaper, news channel and online political blog, was at once magnificent, yet strangely discouraging.
The sensationalism accompanying the show – the flashy billboards, the emotional Coldplay music underscoring pictures of Ignatieff as a boy, the buttons and scarves and popstar-like posters – were a sad depiction of what politics has become: a seemingly endless game where citizens are transformed into consumers and the “democratic process” becomes a product.
How to learn broadcast journalism in two days or less
I was expecting menial chores – running water to panelists or serving food to reporters. Global TV’s Vancouver Executive Producer, Brian Liu, had asked journalism professor Jack Branswell for some interns, and I accepted to help out at the convention along with another Concordia intern. To my surprise, Desiree and I were told to handle the sound-off booth and we emerged with an active focus: broadcast journalism.
Working with Global TV’s crew, including Kevin Newman and the well-known political blogger Warren Kinsella, was a wicked opportunity that nearly overshadowed the convention itself. With the chance to watch the work that goes on in a van loaded with dozens of small TV screens, editing machines and thousands of cables, I grew more inspired with every multi-tasking reporter, editor or production manager I met.
Staffing the sound-off booth meant we were constantly running into the crowd to fetch people, bringing them to our computer and webcam, hooking them up, asking a question and recording their comments. The whole concept of the sound-off was fantastic: first-hand and immediate impressions from citizens and Liberal delegates. Where could you get better reality-based opinions?
Is that brainwashing?
What I saw after talking to 200 people, and what frightened me the most, was that the delegates, the very ones who were electing the leader who might one day be prime minister, usually fit into one of three categories: either they were reading from a pre-selected list of things to say about their leader, or they had very little opinion, or they had no idea why they were even there. And these were delegates!