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August 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Television news producers were wrestling with the question of how to apportion coverage of the Republican National Convention on the one hand and Tropical Storm Isaac on the other. Over the weekend, they began sending some reporters and crew members to New Orleans, which is expected to take the brunt of the storm, which is likely to become a Category One hurricane by the time it makes landfall. Several TV executives sparked annoyance among Republican delegates when they spoke of “split screen” coverage of the two events, raising the specter of convention festivities appearing on one side of the screen while devastation appeared on the other. But the execs later explained that the split screens would only show their anchors in Tampa discussing the storm situation with their reporters in New Orleans. But David Verdi, an NBC News vice president, told the New York Times, “Right now we’re caught between a rock and a hard place … with two major stories simultaneously.” But some commentators wondered why the major networks were devoting as much time as they are to what has become little more than an infomercial for each of the two major parties. “Ironically, it was television coverage from the broadcast networks that played a key role in turning the conventions into snooze fests,” wrote Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times. “Battles on the convention floor, real debates over platforms and the choice of a running mate were fine when there were only print and radio reporters around. Video changed everything. Both parties soon recognized it wasn’t in their interest to let anyone see how the sausage got made.”

UPDATE: The Associated Press reported late today that CNN, Fox News, and the Weather Channel are planning to stay with live coverage of Hurricane Isaac throughout the night. Isaac hit landfall late Tuesday on the Louisiana coast and is moving slowly northwards packing winds exceeding 80mph.