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RNC Yields Little News Coverage of Tampa--Unless You Count The Daily Show

Aug 31, 2012

About fifteen thousand members of the media were in town for the RNC--but perhaps you didn't notice, given the limited coverage of Tampa within the last week.

We've read the stories of strippers.

And listened to them on air.  Some snippets of news reports include:

"Like it or not, Tampa has a reputation when it comes to strip clubs..."

"Yup, Tampa strip clubs are dressing up before dressing down..."

Beyond the weather reports of then-Tropical Storm Isaac, reporters haven't covered much about the city of Tampa, leaving comedy show hosts like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert with unlimited ammo against Tampa.

Stewart's 'news' team--using the word news here loosely--descended upon Tampa like many other journalists.

Their August 30th show started out bashing the Republican Party and took a jab at the preferred footwear of some Tampa residents:

"A party too patriotic for facts...talented a candidate too successful for taxes...a city where flip flops are evening wear..."

Stewart did say something kind of positive:

"[Our] third night in the great city of Tampa..."

But then he said this:

"...it officially qualifies the Daily Show as an invasive species..."

His previous shows called Tampa horrible, hot and emphasized Florida's large insects.

At a recent press conference with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a reporter asked:

"I know a lot of 20-somethings they don't watch the local news anymore...they get their news from The Daily Show...and this is going to be their image of Tampa. What are your thoughts of the coverage so far?"

"Well, there's not much I can do about giant palmetto bugs, candidly and...I think most folks recognize humor when they see it. And I think Jon Stewart is a very very guy and even when he is poking fun at us he is still funny. It is what it is, and if we can't laugh at ourselves then shame on us. We've got a lot of great qualities in this city and certainly we have blemishes as well. If humor gets to the point and if people remember Tampa even if it's for giant man-eating palmetto bugs, I'll take it."

The traditional news media covered the weather and the convention, but haven't said much about the city.

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies explains.

"For the most part, Tampa wasn't portrayed at all. The RNC was an event and most of the reporters restricted their coverage to the event itself. There were a variety of other stories and most of those dipped into how crazy hot it is, what it's like to live in a place menaced by hurricanes, and of course there was the predictable strip club coverage."

Some residents of Tampa, like Aaron Neubert, turn the mirror on the media.

"A lot of people are going to talk down to a city they don't really know much about or anything."

George Roberts predicts the same fate for Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention

"They'll probably get bashed."

As for Jon Stewart's shows about Tampa, Roberts adds:

"Well,  it's Jon Stewart, what do you expect?"

And that's What They're Saying.