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Sunday, June 27, 2010

GOP, Dems Convene, Name Candidates; KELO Talks About the Weather

Screen capture of KELOLand.com website, 2010.06.27 09:27 CDT, showing absence of political convention coverage. Click to enlarge; green dots mark weather stories.
If you get all of your news from television, you'd think nothing happens in South Dakota but wind and rain. I check the KELO website this morning and find that 15 of the front-page headlines deal with yesterday's stormy weather. Of 21 headlines, not one links to either the Republican or Democratic state conventions held this weekend.

KSFY doesn't offer much better. On their newly revamped site—more butch banner font, but content scattered, slow, and video-heavy—convention info is absent from the front page, and the Vote 2010 widget hasn't been updated since the primary. There might be something convention related on the Latest News widget, but at the moment, that block at the top of the KSFY site is empty.

The Republican convention in Huron saw three contested constitutional offices. The Democratic convention in Sioux Falls surprised some observers by recruiting candidates every statewide office below that embarrassing spot we left open on the U.S. Senate line. The Dems also had a battle for the PUC nomination, with Doyle Karpen edging out John Zaiko on a tight margin inflated by the weighted voting system (political conventions in South Dakota do not operate on the "one man, one vote" principle, per SDCL 12-5-18—you should see our vote-count spreadsheet!). The Republicans launched a sneaky tricks lawsuit campaign against the Democrats' lieutenant governor nominee, and the crafty Dems defused the ploy with a quick voter registration switch.

KDLT and KSFY repeated the AP story on the Arndt kerfuffle, and KELO ran some AP releases Friday, but none of the local TV stations did original reporting on the conventions.

Once again, if you want good political coverage, you have to hit the papers or hit the blogs. Kudos to Dakota War College for updates from the GOP convention floor in Huron. And hand me my own horn: I did what I could to blog and Twitter from the Dems convention in Sioux Falls. I'll admit, it's easier to cover a story when you're not an active participant—pretty tough to tweet when you're crafting an education plank, listening to testimony on charter schools, and checking spelling and grammar. But when the paid journalists won't haul their TV cameras across town to cover the story, well, we participants have to do what we can to keep the public informed.

Update 2010.06.29: Professional journalist Bob Mercer responds to our criticism, blames the political parties for the lack of media coverage, and says we have to talk nice to them (or at least not talk mean) if we want them to come next time.


  1. If KELO had it their way, you guys would have a tornado outbreak every day.

    I'm sure it hasen't changed, but KELO always has done a great job during storms informing the public with their live broadcasts.

    Cory, I know politics for you very important. But I think for most people in KELO land they are more worried about the huge hailstones that guy took photos of in Yankton (very impressive by the way).

    The weather is always the cornerstone of any conversation in the midwest. Within the first minute of any interaction I have with anyone in South Dakota, we discuss a) current weather conditions and b) the forcast.

    Cory, if you were to telephone me I'm sure this is how our conversation would go:

    CAH: "Hey, Mark, Cory here, how's it going?"

    MAO: "Fine Cory, pretty cool here today, but they say it's going to warm up."

    CAH: "Yea, beautiful day here at Lake Herman."

    Then our conversation would move on to the business at hand....

  2. Mark, you're right about daily neighborly conversation. And indeed, if I've got branches in my yard and water in my basement, I'm not going to devote much attention to politics for the moment. And I don't question KELO's skill in passing on the weather warnings (I had them on the radio as I drove around Sioux Falls under the clouds). But what is journalism's job: to tell us what we already know (it stormed last night), or to inform us about the people and issues we need to vote on?

    Everybody talks about the weahter, but nobody ever does anything about it. Is politics different?

  3. Heck, and I managed to cover both the storm and the convention... for free!

  4. Mark,

    Who gets elected will long effect the people long after the storm's effects are gone. We need a little perspective from our news sources.

  5. Troy and Cory, I'm with you guys.

    However, KELO has to sex their news up so people still visit the website and watch the show.

    In my opinion, they do a terrible job of that, but I think they are trying to give their viewers what they want. And like it or not, people dig weather stories.

    When I lived in KELO land, the only time I watched is when a chunk of hail hit my window.

    And Cory, a tip of the hat, as you are still my exclusive news source for Madison, as neither local media outlet really does a good job of covering events on their websites.

    I just wished you covered the Madison weather a little more :)

  6. Yea Cory , How about a daily forecast, what gives man? :-)

  7. 76°F, clear, NW breeze to 13 mph. Tonight, cool and clear, wwind dying down, and no more hillbilly testosterone outlaw country music from Prairie Village keeping everyone at Lake Herman up late.


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