Media At the DNC, Part I: The Stockyard
Charlotte magazine has found its niche — it just took awhile
The media really drove their tent stakes in Monday, settling into their basecamps at the Charlotte Convention Center and outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame and in The EpiCentre, and everybody reported their Media Spottings. (I scored a minor one, David Brock of Media Matters For America, not exactly a household name, although I give myself extra points for engaging him in a short conversation and shaking his hand.)
Most media are assigned workspace at the Convention Center, where significance, or lack of it, is painfully obvious in an old-school way that just doesn’t comport with the Internet’s flattening, everyone’s-a-journalist effect. Here, you descend via an airport-scale escalator to the blimp hangar/cavern of Hall C, home to many of the media hordes. Once in the hall, there’s no question about which are viewed as the institutions worthy of respect — and therefore enough space to build a three-bedroom colonial with yard — and which get a closet-sized nook with an unplugged lamp and no outlets.
We got the nook. We’re not bitter. It’s just … illustrative, that’s all. There’s a geopolitical feel to the hall floor. There are ladies at the front desk to help guide you to your space. They’re very nice, but unless you’re a truly significant player on the world scene — Russia, say, or Brazil, or The Washington Post — you’re some tiny country no one has ever heard of that only recently won its independence from Portugal, and what language do they speak in your country, anyway? They couldn’t find us on the map, is what I’m saying. The lady’s name was Pat. She was a volunteer who appeared to be in her 60s. She was trying to locate Charlotte magazine’s reserved workspace on a woefully inadequate 8 1/2-by-14-inch photocopied schematic of Hall C, and seriously, it was as if she’d been shown a label-free map of a hand-sized Africa and told to point to Guinea-Bissau, which, incidentally, won its independence from Portugal in 1974.
“Hmm. Charlotte magazine. C217. OK. Where is that? Here’s Gannett … I think you’re back here along this wall … not The Charlotte Observer?”
No. The Observer, I noticed, has a nice, big space reserved, Uganda-sized, at least. “No, ma’am,” I said. “Charlotte magazine.”
“Wait. You said C226? … no, that’s The Houston Something … wait, is it over here?” This went on, I swear, for five minutes. Finally, Pat picked up a weak signal. She led me past Bloomberg’s setup, two full rows of flat-screen monitors and financial journalists tapping away about the DNC’s influence on the bearer bonds market. To the right was a colossal banner, hanging above another football-field expanse: TIME. Time has space. We have little. The nook was against the back wall. Success! No power outlet, though. And shaky WiFi I couldn’t access. No big thing — I wasn’t planning to spend much time there, anyway — but still. In more ways than one: Weak.
I thanked Pat, who seemed to feel sorry for me. She really was quite nice. On the way out, I remarked that Bloomberg certainly had a healthy chunk of territory. “Oh, that’s nothing,” Pat said. “There are plenty of folks here with even more space than that.”