Posted: 12:29 pm Thursday, July 28th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania –
As many reporters get ready to end a two week trip that took us to both the Democratic and Republican conventions, I wanted to give you a look behind the scenes, to give you a feel for what it is like to not only be at a major party gathering, but also what you don’t really see on TV each night.
In both Cleveland and Philadelphia, the venues were a stadium used for an NBA team (and NHL here in Philly) – so it’s a big facility in a big city – both sides dressing it up to their own tastes.
My press seat each time has been way up high – in Cleveland, they built a temporary work area for radio reporters – here in Philadelphia, we’re up in the press box area.
Here’s a look down my row last night – you can see all the microphones, and all the different stations and networks doing broadcasts from the event. It was the same at the GOP – very little room to do anything but your job.
As for how much room we have – imagine a regular size laptop. Now add about 3 inches on each side, and that’s basically your work area.
My view has been off to the same side of the podium in each city. This is from Cleveland:
This is in Philadelphia:
Outside is where the real work space is located for reporters; here in Cleveland there are temporary tents that were erected, and they serve as the holding area for many reporters, whether newspaper, online, TV or radio.
The main media tents are located just across the “street” from the arena; so it’s not a big hike.
Look closely in the middle there, and you see the skyline of downtown Philadelphia.
Let’s say you are a TV crew in from some other city, sometimes the host city even sets up a little backdrop for you to use to do an interview – like this one here in Cleveland.
The sign even says, “Film your stand-ups here, an invite to TV reporters to stop by and use the space.
These are the tents that you might have heard about the other day, when a giant thunderstorm hit Philadelphia, as water leaked in and the tents themselves swayed in the wind.
— Chris Brennan (@ByChrisBrennan) July 25, 2016
As for the TV networks, they are in bigger tents and trailers outside the arena – CNN has a big stage set up a few blocks from there, where they broadcast live.
It’s been very hot outside this week in Philadelphia, and I’m sure even warmer in front of those TV lights. That’s something this radio boy is happy that he does not have to deal with.
Just across from there is the “CNN Grill,” which serves as sort of a de facto bar and hangout place for reporters during the evening – mainly because there really isn’t anywhere else to go.
This was where Megyn Kelly of Fox News was seen on Wednesday night, prompting a lot of people to wonder if she was looking for a new job, with a new network.
In Cleveland, the CNN Grill was just on the edge of the secured zone – one day the fire trucks all zoomed down the street to its location, because a small fire had started on the roof.
If you don’t want to go to the CNN Grill, you can head over to the food truck area and get yourself at $7 beer. Cheeseburgers at $10. A Gatorade is $6. A bottle of water is $4.50.
So, on this last night of the Democratic National Convention, I’ll be way up in the rafters watching it all – this is my 15th major party convention (my first was in 1988).
In a lot of ways the conventions are different, but for the most part, they are all the same. You rush into town and deal with security hassles and a place you maybe have never been before. Just when you figure out what door to go in, and how to get to your work space, it’s time to leave town.
Thanks to everyone for checking on my blog during these last two weeks. It should be an interesting run to November.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.