August 17, 2000 -- Protesters and politicians arent the only ones hoping to capture some media attention at the Democratic National Convention. A program moUnited by the Norman Lear Center of the University of Southern Californias Annenberg School of Communication also aims to lure journalists. But it doesnt just give out free tote bags-it wants to give the press new tools for covering politics in America.
Representatives from more than 50 nonpartisan groups make up Democracy Row, a collection of booths just off the main media work space in the L.A. Convention Center. The organizations all work toward improving the information Americans get about political candidates, campaigns and issues--whether thats through C-Span or the satirical Web site Suck.com.
We wanted to have a mix of groups, said Stephen Rivers, a consultant and spokesman for Democracy Row. There are a lot of people doing interesting things in a lot of ways, some traditional, some less traditional. And they target different constituencies. But its all about trying to get people more interested and motivated to get involved with civic life.
Democracy Row is part of a two-year project at USC called Reliable Resources for Broadcast Political Coverage, funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
We hope that
by being exposed to some of these groups ideas will be generated and journalists
will learn a thing or two, Rivers said. Its about helping
journalists do a better job of telling viewers in a compelling way about
whats really going on in politics.
The foot traffic has been slower than I expected, said Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology. But the interaction has been of high quality.
A look at four groups participating in Democracy Row: