NEWSWATCH: Politics for Turned-Off People

Political conventions may not be as crass and boss-ridden as they once were, but they are just as synthetic in an up-to-date show-biz way. Newsmen used to armor themselves against the hokum by reporting it in the cynically fond style of amused outrage made popular by H.L. Mencken. That tone is harder to sustain these days, and a good many reporters and editors are now asking whether they are covering conventions in the right way.

Being themselves political buffs, journalists are fascinated by the contending ambitions that shape the "great game of politics" (a phrase that badly needs restudy). But...

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