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Friday, 4 August, 2000, 01:45 GMT 02:45 UK
Convention taps into net appeal journalist
A journalist wears his computer
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Philadelphia

The Republican party convention marks the dawning of a new concept: political conventions, and the telecommunications revolution is evident everywhere.

An army of online journalists are covering the convention from new angles with cutting edge technology.

The focus on toys and technology leads to political banality

Steve Schneider, editor of
Candidates are quick to give their website address, and delegates and journalists seem to be constantly tapping away on mobile phones, laptops and e-mail pagers.

New economy

The political parties and candidates are eager to show off their internet appeal.

During Wednesday night's focus on prosperity at the Republican Convention, they highlighted new economy entrepreneurs.

"Nearly 60,000 Americans will log onto the internet for the first time today," Christina Jones said in her convention speech.

Dot.coms have added new aspects to the coverage of conventions
Dot.coms have added new aspects to the coverage of conventions
Ms Jones has started two high-tech companies in Texas, and she said that the high-tech sector has created 100,000 new jobs there.

Internet Alley

But possibly the biggest change this year can be seen in the media area called Internet Alley.

There you can see reporters with walking around with wearable computers streaming video over wireless network links.'s efforts are focused on inside the convention hall where they have several cameras providing visitors to their site 360-degree views of the hall.

And one could hardly miss the full studios that US networks ABC and MSNBC have built inside Internet Alley.

But just to focus on Internet Alley misses the extent of the online revolution, said Steve Schneider.

Mr Schneider is editor of, a website that looks at campaigns and political coverage online at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Centre.

Political banality

The extent that mainstream journalists are using the net, he said, is phenomenal.

Some 15,000 journalists are working in four large tents and countless smaller trailers outside the convention hall.

"Every single journalist at the convention is on the internet," he said. "The whole thing is one gigantic Internet Alley," he said.

But while the dot.coms have added new aspects to the coverage of the conventions, it is questionable whether they have added to the quality of the coverage as opposed to the quantity, Mr Schneider said. hosted a focus group looking at the web's coverage of Republican Convention on Wednesday night.

Their conclusion? "The focus on toys and technology leads to political banality," he said.

"It might be the first internet convention because there is nothing else to talk about," he said.

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