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Local Media Don't Get Tea Party Invite

All politics might be local, but sometimes, sadly, media coverage of politics isn't.

The inaugural National Tea Party Convention got under way in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, and world media of all stripes and political colors poured into the city to cover the three-day event.

That is mostly good news, because only a month ago, the event organizers were cherry-picking who would cover their event and, not surprisingly, most of those cherries were Republican Red.

After rethinking that one-way strategy, the Party bosses announced Thursday that they had, in fact, credentialed 111 members of the working press -- some from as far away as Japan.

"We desire transparency at this convention and have worked with media that are friendly to the Tea Party movement as well as those that have not been seen to be supportive of our efforts," convention spokesman Mark A. Skoda said.

Bravo for that, except in this case, transparency seems to work only if you are viewing the convention with a telescope.

For some reason, Skoda's gang did not issue credentials to the city's hometown paper, The Tennessean, as well as other Nashville media entities.

To its credit, the Tennessean took the high road regarding this snub and diligently covered the event for its readers as best it could from the periphery.

I counted three stories and a blog on the newspaper's website this morning that had to do with the convention.

Its lead story mentioned the snub this way:

All 111 of the press passes distributed for the event went to out-of-town news organizations, everyone from The New York Times to journalists reporting for outlets in Brazil, France and Japan.

"We're trying to spread a global message here. We can't credential everyone," said convention spokesman Mark Skoda, who left Nashville-area newspapers, radio and TV stations off the access list.

Not that this presents much hardship for coverage. The halls of Opryland are crowded with convention-goers ready to share quotes and snacks with hungry reporters.

It's true, any enterprising reporter can work around these silly and restrictive conditions to provide their readers some color and news from the event, but that they have to do so from outside the actual convention hall itself is completely insulting and short-sighted in my view.

If I worked at the Tennessean, or one of the other snubbed media outlets, I admittedly would be madder than a hornet.

As a courtesy, if nothing else, the Nashville media should have been the first to get credentialed for the convention. Their job, 365 days a year, is to cover their community for the local citizenry.

The locals depend, and in some instances pay, for this coverage so that they know what is happening around them -- good, bad or otherwise.

I won't get into a debate about how well these media outlets are doing their jobs because I don't live in their coverage area, but I am confident that every effort is made each day to make sure the coverage they do provide is as accurate and authoritative as possible.

I will go out on a limb to say their local coverage is certainly more comprehensive and authoritative than some report coming from Brazil, or Japan, or New York ...

After coming so close to getting it correct, the Tea Party's high-brow approach to media coverage is a slap in the face to the very people that hosted their party.