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Is the verb 'assemble' sloppily used as 'convene' here:

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"Mr. Husseini was speaking at a hastily assembled news conference in the mainly Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, after the closing of the media center in the nearby Ambassador Hotel. "

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"At a hastily convened news conference on Sunday, the deputy ISAF commander, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, read a brief statement that did little to clarify what happened between the ISAF and Afghan National Army, or ANA, soldiers."

Dictionaries suggest "to convene a group of people" and "convene a conference/meeting" are okay. But only "to assemble a group of people" okay, and not "to assemble a conference/meeting".

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Assemble brings to mind Ikea furniture and other horrible images. –  terdon Feb 3 '13 at 0:50
    
If conferees may be the objects of convention, why not of assembly? AHD: "To bring or call together into a group or whole: assembled the jury." And a news conference is only nominally a conference; nobody confers. –  StoneyB Feb 3 '13 at 1:10
    
So is a news conference, nominally! I like assemble better than convene here: convene suggests something formal and carefully prepared, while assemble gives a better sense of "slapped together". –  StoneyB Feb 3 '13 at 1:20
    
@StoneyB But a 'conference/meeting; is an activity. For the verb 'convene' dictionaries have two senses where 'convene' is followed by people or the activity of a conference. definition of convene For the verb 'assemble', dictionaries only have one sense, where 'assemble' is followed by people only. definition of assemble –  user36924 Feb 3 '13 at 1:21
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2 Answers

No, it's fine. I'm not surprised that you've found dictionaries are explicitly giving "convene a meeting" but not "assemble a meeting", because assemble is a wider word and a lot of things one can assemble, one cannot convene (or at the very least, it would be a strange wording).

You may well think convene is better, but that's another thing to the other choice being sloppy. Personally, I'd go for it most of the time, but when it's been done "hastily" I prefer assemble, as its other senses give me an image of something being thrown together in that haste—sloppiness of the organisers, rather than the reporter—that is appropriate.

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Does that mean a "hastily put-together meeting", a "hastily thrown-together meeting", and a "hastily cobbled-together meeting" are acceptable English? –  user36924 Feb 3 '13 at 1:39
    
Yes, but they aren't in the overlap of convene and assemble. They still work metaphorically and would be good if there were evidence signs of that haste (i.e. if the meeting was a bit of a mess because of the haste). If that was the case, then they'd be better than assemble or convene, but otherwise they wouldn't. –  Jon Hanna Feb 3 '13 at 1:43
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Both may be either transitive or intransitive, both may mean either gathering the members of a group or the whole group thus gathered. I think it's not so much a matter of logic as that of collocation. 'Convene' and 'conference' go together like hands and gloves while 'assemble' and 'conference' do not, or if ever, like hands and socks.

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