I started applying for credentials very early on, almost as soon as the New Hampshire primary was over. I initially applied to the House Press Gallery. Shortly after I applied, I received an email:
The Press Gallery has determined that your request for credentials would best be directed to those offices handling “Special Press Credentials” for the conventions.
The next day, I heard from the DNCC Press Gallery (the DNCC is the “Democratic National Convention Committee”):
Thank you for your interest in covering the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In April the DNCC Press Gallery will begin processing applications for press credentials.
In early May, after more than a month of radio silence, another message from the DNCC Press Gallery:
To apply for credentials from the DNCC Press Gallery, ONE contact person from your organization must complete the DNCC Application Form.
Which I did. After which I had to mail them a security form, with copies of identification and other background information.
A month after that, a follow-up came:
Thank you for your application to the DNCC Press Gallery. Though we are currently still accepting applications until June 15th, we request that you send us more information to aid in our decision-making process. It would be helpful to include any work you have done and tell us what work you look to accomplish here at the Convention. Again, we appreciate your interest in the Convention and we look forward to hearing from you.
I did that:
I operate a Canadian weblog — www.reinvented.net — that reports on local, national and international issues. I was in New Hampshire for the primary season, and blogged several events. I hope to continue and expand this reporting from the DNCC.
And then another month went by. Finally, last Monday, came a phone call from the DNCC Press Gallery, confirming that I was receiving credentials.
My assumption was that I was being credentialled as a weblogger: I’d been pointing to this website as my “medium” from the very first application. A followup exchange of email with the Press Gallery, though, revealed that my credentials class me as a “news service.” I’m still not sure what the distinction is, but it seems that I won’t have access to the special facilities being set aside for bloggers. This appears to leave me to share facilities with the rest of the “unassigned media.”
Which brings me to the matter of whether I’ll actually be able to attend or not.
There are two big issues to overcome: getting there, and finding a place to stay once I’m there. Both issues loom somewhat larger for me because, although I’m a “news service,” I’m not Reuters or the AP, and so this project doesn’t have a budget. In other words, air and hotel would come out of my own pocket.
It looks like I can get to Boston for less than $1000. Perhaps less than $500 if I drive to Halifax first. Or I could drive for about $100 in gas (plus 24 hours of driving time). So that’s not an insurmountable hurdle.
The big stumbling block is finding a place to stay that’s within reasonable distance of the convention site in downtown Boston.
There are plenty of hotel rooms available in places like Lowell, Danvers, Peabody — suburbs of Boston which would take some clever commuting to get to. Which might be impossible late at night. Any rooms closer to the city are selling at an insane premium right now. I do have a possible line on a media hotel in Braintree, which looks like it might be on the ‘T’ red line, which would mean I could subway in and out.
Laying over top of all of this is that if I go it will mean 4 or 5 days away from actual paying work. Which is not insignificant, given that I’m one half of a two man shop.
Assuming I do pull this off, there are a couple of interesting side developments.
The National Post emailed last week asking for the option to pick up items from my weblog to include in their convention coverage. And they’re willing to pay (although not a lot).
CBC Main Street here on Prince Edward Island, for which I filed items from the New Hampshire primary and from Super Tuesday in California, is willing to do a hit or two from Boston.
All of which raises the question: why would I do this?
There are many of answers to that question:
First, although resident in Canada since 1966, I was born in New York state, and I’m still an American citizen, entitled to vote in the election. So I have a personal need to know more about who I’m voting for. This may seem a little crazy, but if I’m going to vote (as I did in 2000), I can’t not take it seriously.
I have a fascination with large-scale political spectacle. Ever since I covered the Liberal party convention in 1984 for my local paper (and I use “covered” in the “I was 18 years old and got the editor to let me use his letterhead” sense and not in the “actually wrote anything” sense), I’ve loved watching large groups of people gather to do politics.
After experiencing and writing here about the New Hampshire primary — the larval stages of what flowers at the Convention — I feel like I should follow on and see the process through to its conclusion (I’ve already made tentative arrangements to be in the U.S. on election day in November).
And despite my protests every time someone talks about how “blogs are changing everything,” I actually do have some interest in finding out how an amateur, self-published, instant medium like this can be used to communicate about events like the Convention.
I’m not sure whether what might happen here would be “news” or “opinion” or some murky combination of the two. I’m not sure if being a weblogger means I’m simply play-acting as a journalist, or if there’s actually something valuable to come out of amateur writers covering events from “a different perspective.” I’m not sure if once at the convention I would be able to maintain the sort of off-the-cuff writing style I prefer here, or whether I would feel some sort of obligation to adopt a contorted pseudo-journalism style (“the mood of the convention is enthusiastic but subdued as delegates prepare to enter into a new chapter of the electoral process”). But it seems like it might be an interesting experiment to find out.