This first appeared today in Columbia Journalism Review
By Brian E. Crowley
TAMPA — On Wednesday, the morning after the first night of the Republican National Convention, the front page of the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun Sentinel—the paper with the fourth-largest daily circulation in Florida—had not a single story about the GOP gathering. Not even a tease to inside coverage. There was nothing on the front about Ann Romney’s speech. There was nothing about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s speech, or that of any other speaker. The lede story was about problems with school bus drivers. A top-of-the-fold feature package was about a 17-year-old girl who is a high school quarterback.
Things were very different in Tampa, 264 miles to the northwest, where the GOP has gathered this week. Here, the Tampa Bay Times and Politico teamed together to publish a four-section package of more 50 stories and dozens of graphics, photos, and sidebar tidbits. It spread over 32 pages. Eight of those pages were taken up by a paid political advertisement for the American Clean Skies Foundation (the organization promotes the production of natural gas in shale rock); the remaining 24 were largely filled with convention coverage.
Stories ranged from speech coverage to an interesting analysis of the Republican Party that Mitt Romney is about to lead. There were articles about the Florida delegation bus being delayed for hours, problems with traffic, celebrity sightings, and even how the convention has had little impact on kids going to school. To say that there was no stone left unturned is to put it mildly.