All in all, I was interviewed three times in an hour, and I’m positive I would’ve doubled that number if I had arrived two hours earlier, when dozens more cameramen were stalking the halls in search of B-roll; at that time, it seemed like the number of stupid hats was only matched by the number of camera crews rushing to interview people wearing stupid hats. This is sort of a metaphor for convention coverage in general. Thousands and thousands of reporters are here in Charlotte, covering one of the biggest political spectacles of the year.

Reporters love things that are big and colorful and dramatic—those stories are easy to report, and they play well on page one and at the top of the hour. But most people here aren’t wearing dumb costumes, which is why it’s aggravating that reporters so consistently spotlight these outliers. Pageantry is obviously part of a political convention, but when you focus primarily on the spectacle, you give readers and viewers an incomplete picture of the sort of people who are here and what’s actually going on. (Granted, at least one of the outlets that interviewed me probably isn’t here to tell their audience what’s actually going on).

On my way out of the convention at the end of the night, I put the hat back on to see if I could tempt anyone into interviewing me one last time. Sure enough, I was jumped by a young man wielding a small video camera. “Sir, can I interview you?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” I said.

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.