Denver Diaries: The media parties

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Last week on Midday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak discussed the value of next week’s Republican National Convention in promoting the Twin Cities on the national stage. For that, they’ll have to impress the thousands of journalists who’ll be arriving in town, most of them by way of Denver. And they’ll be comparing this city (Denver) with the Twin Cities.

We’re starting now. This (above) is Theresa who was one of the volunteers at the giant media party thrown at an amusement park next to Pepsi Center tonight. Her job? She was assigned to stand next to a large trash bin, in which trash was being thrown into three receptacles. The city is pushing for a zero-waste convention, and reporters aren’t particularly bright, apparently, when it comes to determining whether the half-eaten shredded pork is recyclable nor not.

She’s originally from the Seattle area and then moved to the Mojave Desert with her husband to work for a mining company. She was in the human resources department and was given the task of recruiting people to work for the company. When she found the Mojave Desert a tough sell, they moved to Salt Lake City, and then to the Denver area.

She, like all the volunteers I met, was nothing if not enthusiastic and outgoing. It’ll be a challenge for Minnesotans. Outgoing isn’t in our state motto. We’ll be delighted to welcome visitors, as long as they talk to us first.

As of last month, the Twin Cities organizers were still 1,000 volunteers shy of the goal. One of the problems with this sort of thing, of course, is you never know where you’ll be assigned. I talked to one volunteer who had hoped to get some bartending work at the media party. She was clearing our dirty plates instead. No matter, she said. Her husband is involved in logistics for several events this week and she’s expecting to pitch in. As it turns out, she’s a social worker in Denver who handles problems with Section 8 housing.

The media party

It’s the largest party during the convention. An estimated 9,000 media types showed up at an amusement park next to Pepsi Center for free music, booze, food, rides and fireworks. MediaNews, the same company that runs the St. Paul Pioneer Press, blew a reported $1.5 million on the affair to put a happy face on the people who are going to write about the company’s hometown (it owns the Denver Post).

Traditionally, the dominant media in a convention city hosts this party. But this year the cash outlay raised eyebrows because publisher Dean Singleton’s company is in free fall, just sold its Connecticut newspaper operation to raise cash, and is expected to undergo “restructuring” soon now that its bond rating has been reduced again.

Neither the Star Tribune nor Pioneer Press decided to sponsor the media party in Minneapolis next Saturday night. It’ll be held along the riverfront near the Guthrie. My colleague, Kerri Miller, suggests it’ll be far more elegant, but we’ll see whether media folks craving free food and free beer will judge elegant to be better than a free ride on the bungee jump.

Media watcher David Brauer raises the key point of all of this. Should the media be taking something for nothing? Is this any different from the politicians getting freebies and food from major corporations?

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(Photo by Nikki Tundel)

If, the next time the Pioneer Press lays off a generous portion of its staff, you see the local media pulling its punches on the story, you’ll have the answer.

Cameras

As you might expect, those cameras that have sprouted on light poles around downtown St. Paul, are all over downtown Denver as well. No one seems to be complaining. Tonight the head of a group of lawyers that’s in town to make sure people’s civil rights aren’t violated, said the cameras will be useful in documenting any incidents.

Media interviewing media

The Uptake’s Chuck Olsen has the most fascinating setup. You see something interesting, you fire up your phone-gizmo (it’s technical talk!), record your interview, press a gizmo that sends it back to… wherever… and somehow it ends up on The Uptake’s Web site some seconds later.

The lengths to which some people will go to get their stuff embedded on News Cut!

Chuck and I had a spirited conversation some weeks ago on News Cut, We disagree on a few things about the media, but agree on many, many more. He’s a good man and a very talented documentary producer. It was a pleasure to run into him and even more so to have a half hour or so to sit and chat about how he does what he does.

  • Minn Whaler

    looks similar to the incredible Woodbury Days celebration that I didn’t attend either, the fireworks and neighborhood dogs did remind me in my half-asleep state, that I was missing (yet again) some kind of party.

    Is the idea to get the media exhausted before things get going, so they don’t cover things as well as they would with say some sleep?

  • http://theuptake.org Chuck Olsen

    I really enjoyed our chat too, Bob – and seeing you interview the volunteer who took our paper plates, whom most people would have ignored.

  • Teresa Wagner

    Good Morning Bob! It was great meeting you and your family at the Media Party on Friday night. Thanks for highlighting me in your blog~how fabulous to watch the fireworks and chat with you! Although, I never did answer your initial question to me: “what prompted me to volunteer for the DNC?” My answer to you (2 days later):

    For the past 8 years I’ve felt as if I’ve had to censor/conceal my own political views about the war, climate change, and personal rights because republicans and conservatives were mean and hate-filled in their verbal attacks against me. My husband, Gregg and I have been so discouraged with the “us against them” mentality devised by the current administration. How can there be any progress without people first caring for each other?

    However, with the DNC in Denver and the gathering of Dems from around the country, it feels like I’ve found my voice again! It feels like coming home to people just like me, optimistic and hopeful for dialogue about how to fix what’s broken, how to compromise, and to focus on benefiting future generations. And, of course, real solutions to halting climate change. Voicing my opinion~Ah, breathe the free air!

    It’s been great to announce that I am a Liberal, a Pacifist, and I am a Democrat, without rebuke of being called a traitor or un-American. That’s why I volunteered to work at the DNC. I was also hoping to meet incredibly interesting people like you! Enjoy the Denver Convention, take your family to Red Rocks if you get a chance, and remember to recycle!

    Cheers, Teresa Wagner, Castle Rock, CO