Amid the media frenzy, Aspenite offers assistance
August 27, 2008
DENVER ” With more than 17,000 reporters, editors, photographers and camera operators in town, managing the media onslaught for the 2008 Democratic National Convention might be viewed as a daunting task.
But one of those involved said it has gone very smoothly as far as he can determine, and a Roaring Fork Valley woman who is volunteering on one aspect of the media frenzy agreed.
“I haven’t heard of any [problems],” said Aspen public relations specialist Jeanette Darnauer, who has worked in news in the past and volunteered to help with a special exhibit of presidential memorabilia at the convention in Denver.
Her boss at the convention, Rich Grant, said that he hadn’t “heard one word about the credentialing not being perfect.”
Darnauer’s job at the convention, which started Monday and concludes Thursday, is to interest journalists in a story about an exhibit called the American Presidential Experience, a collection of historic presidential memorabilia ranging from replicas of presidential limousines and offices to displays of presidential shoes.
The exhibition was brought to town by the Denver Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau in cooperation with the Democratic National Convention Committee. Darnauer was picked through social contacts with a public relations firm hired by the visitors bureau.
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The traveling show, based in Branson, Mo., is on display under tents in a parking lot at Invesco Field, which is where the presumptive presidential nominee, Barack Obama, is to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday.
More than 75,000 are expected to attend the event, said display impresario Jim Warlick of South Carolina, and the exhibit will be open to the attendees until 11:30 p.m. Thursday, he said.
“Because they’ll probably all be kind of stuck in their trying to get out, and they might want something to do while they’re waiting to leave,” he said.
Darnauer worked her only shift on Sunday, before the convention officially opened, and said she provided visiting journalists with information about Denver and the state, offered story ideas and dealt with logistical requests and directions to the various DNC venues.
Among those she has worked with were television crews from Australia and Boston.
A lot of reporters, she said, “are looking for sidebars, stories about the region,” information she was well-equipped to provide.
After her Sunday shift she spent the next couple of days going to panel discussions, monitoring the impact of the convention on Denver and riding a borrowed bicycle around to avoid adding to the air pollution caused by convention-related vehicle traffic.
The only demonstration she had witnessed as of Tuesday afternoon was when a group of Hillary Clinton supporters held a protest meeting outside one of the panel discussions on the Auraria College campus, which is located next to the Pepsi Center where the convention is being held.
For many of the participants in the convention, she said, “you don’t know if there are any protests,” which largely take place away from the Pepsi Center thanks to careful planning by the city of Denver.
That said, she continued, “one of the things I’m so impressed with is how many places around town are opportunities for political expression.”
She encountered activists passing out leaflets on everything from the abuse of political dissidents in China to objections to Obama’s positions on Iraq and Iran, and campaigns for greater use of renewable energy resources.
But she planned on visiting Civic Center Park on her final day in Denver, the site of rallies, protest demonstrations and at least two clashes between police and protesters Tuesday, “just to kind of get the feeling for what people are energized about.”
Although Darnauer’s role in managing the media invasion has been relatively minor, the media presence has been as much of a story as the workings of the convention itself, at least up until Tuesday afternoon.
“There are 7,000 more reporters here than there were at the Winter Olympics,” said
Grant, adding that with some 6,000 delegates participating in the convention, “there’s almost three media for every delegate. You walk the streets, all you see are media.”
He said cable news network MSNBC is broadcasting live 20 hours a day, and that CNN has a staff of 850 working the convention.
“You hear every language of the world when you walk around,” Grant said enthusiastically.