Friday, September 5, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Day 4

The big night was tonight for Senator John McCain. After an outstanding speech given by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin the night before, McCain had to deliver.
Steffani and I talked to some delegates who were very excited after Palin’s speech last night and they were anxious to see McCain speech.

The stage was changed this morning into a town hall meeting style stage and McCain did a walk through around 2:00 to make sure he was comfortable with the style. Their were numerous speakers tonight including McCain’s wife Cindy. Around 9:00 PM Senator McCain took stage and delivered his speech. It was a very nice speech for McCain. Everyone knows that he cannot give a speech like Senator Obama, but many people in the arena tonight were very impressed with McCain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Day Four (Thurs. Sept. 4)

This morning Nikki and I went out on the floor as they were changing the stage for McCain. They added a runway so he could deliver his speech in a town hall style format.

Orson was a POW with McCain in Vietnam. Early this afternoon CBS interviewed him and we got to sit in on the interview. Orson said being a POW was an experience that changed him forever and he wouldn’t change it.

About 2:30 McCain did a walk through of the facilities. The stage was finished and cleaned up just in time for the walk through. I went down on the floor during that and got some video that you can see at a later date on WTV 8 News. Tonight McCain formally accepted the republican Presidential nomination. He had a lot of good things to say, though he is not the most exciting speaker. His wife, however set the stage well for him.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Day 3

Today was Sarah Palin day at the convention. Everyone wanted to hear from the woman who some knew nothing about. The Governor of Alaska spoke to the largest crowd she has ever spoke in front of and looked fearless. Her whole family was in attendance, even the father of Palin's 17 year old daughter's baby. Palin talked about her family as well saying she will be an advocate for families with special needs children. She was also on the attack tonight saying she was qualified for the vice president position. She highlighted some things she did in Alaska, but never really touched on what she was going to specifically do in the White House. She also had a few humerus moments in her speech saying, "You know they say the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick." The crowd was loving Sarah Palin and as the speech got over a surprise guest showed up a little early, John McCain. "Don't you think I made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States." said McCain.

RNC in St. Paul Prep Day Two (Wed. Sept. 3)

When we walked into the Xcel Energy Center bright and early this morning, just before 6:30, Sarah Palin was going through her run through on the stage. We went upstairs and helped with the morning news show. Fred Thompson was on the morning show. It was fun to watch and record the interview for stories that we will put together later. This afternoon was spent answering phones and escorting political analysts to their radio shows.

Nikki and I stayed for the duration of the convention today so we could watch the convention. Among the speakers of the evening were Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. All three addressed why Sarah Palin is qualified to be VP. The most popular compairason being Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. One of the most interesting facts I heard last night was that Delaware and Alaska both have the same number of electoral votes and you can fit 250 states the size of Delaware in Alaska. So Alaska being a small state shouldn't be any more of aworry since Joe Biden is from Delaware, a comparable size on a much smaller plot of land. Here is a clip of Sarah Palin speech tonight at the convention.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Day Two (Tues. Sept. 2)

Today was another fun day of meeting some well known faces. We started out the day a little slow, but that was good because it gave me and another runner the chance to bring Bob Schieffer up to Radio row for an interview. While we were walking upstairs Bob asked where I was from and I said that I went to college in Waverly and he recognized that town and said he had done some things with Wartburg before. Nikki and I got to sit in the room while they were doing the interview. Here is a portion of that interview.

If it wasn’t for still being hungry after a lunch that was not one of my favorites then CBS would not have gotten the chance to interview Mike Huckabee. We saw a crowd of people gathering around a table and found out that it was Mike Huckabee.

Later on in the night during some down time I got to use a press floor pass to walk around a little bit. They will not let you enter the floor during a speech so I had to wait a few minutes before I could enter. But as I got on the floor Cindy McCain was taking her seat. She was very polite and smiled/waved in the direction that she heard her name being called. I also stopped to listen to a speech about being a foster parent and serving. U.S. Representative Michelle Bachmann (MN) is a foster parent as are the McCain's. As I was exiting the floor I met Sean Hannity of Fox.

RNC in St. Paul Day 2 (Tues. Sept. 2)

Meeting new and famous people is the most exciting part of the Republican National Convention. Today Steffani and I had the chance to meet former CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer. He was a very lovely man who loves the Iowa caucus. "I love being in Iowa during caucus time, but I only wish they had it in June or July instead of January"said Schieffer. This picture is right before Schieffer did an radio interview in CBS's sky box.
We also had the chance to meet Governor Mike Huckabee. As Steffani and I were walking down "Talk Show Row" we noticed a crowd around one of the tables. We looked over and it was in fact the Governor. After we spotted his publicist we had to try to get him through the crowd of media, upstairs to the CBS sky box for a quick interview. His people were really skeptical about the interview because they needed to get him out of the convention and get him to another speaking engagement. Steffani, Vanessa (CBS), and myself were able to charm him into following us upstairs for the interview. I just brought up his win at the Iowa caucuses and he was a happy camper.

Monday, September 1, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Day One (Mon. Sept 1)

The start of the convention was pretty low key. Although President Bush was not in attendance, his wife First Lady Bush did give a ten minute speech. Cindy McCain, looking fabulous as always, spoke for ten minutes after the First Lady. Listening to these women I was actually impressed with how much the first ladies are involved with this whole election process. Other than Senator Hilary Clinton I thought all the first ladies had to do was stand there, agree with their husbands, and look pretty. These ladies must remember and know as much as their husbands if they want to be in the White House.

My main job today for CBS was working with all the CBS affiliates. What that meant was all of the CBS radio stations had to come to me to get a press credential to be on the floor with the delegates. I really enjoyed this job because it was nice to meet all the CBS broadcasters across the United States. Another big job Steffani and I had was to get interviews for the CBS affiliates on “Talk Show Row.” “Talk Show Row” is where all the radio talk shows are located. The video below is an interview with a CBS station and Dotty Lynch. She is a political consultant for CBS.


RNC in St. Paul Day One (Mon. Sept. 1)

Right off the bat today we had some excitement. As Nikki and I were walking into the Xcel Energy Center we saw protestors from the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War. They are an organization of Iraq service members and veterans who support an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. occupying forces form Iraq. The protestors were peaceful yet full of emotions.

Today I also got to meet a few famous people. Dan Raviv, one of the CBS news anchors, interviewed the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He talked about the pregnancy of Palin’s 17 year old daughter. He said, “The pregnancy is a personal matter and has nothing to do with the election. She will be supportive to her daughter and grandchild and that will be the end of it. He also talked specifically about McCain. Gingrich thinks McCain redeemed himself when he was holding town hall meetings in New Hampshire. “If what people want is eloquence then they will vote for Obama, if what they are looking for is facts then McCain,” said Gingrich.

One of my other jobs today was to help organize the affiliate station’s convention floor passes. While I was waiting for one of the stations to come back with the pass another runner pointed out to me that they were shooting a segment of the Daily Show. The photographer came over to us and said Jason Jones is going to come over hear and do something if you guys don’t laugh ok? So walked over to us while we were talking and gave me a hug and said everything is going to be ok…but then he changed his mind and thought it would be funnier if he hugged Michael. So he did it again and gave Michael a hug. The Daily Show is one day behind, so tomorrow if you watch it I might be on TV.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Prep Day Two (Sun. Aug. 31)

SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY! Today was the start of the major security check points. It felt as if we got through one checkpoint we only had another one to get through. The Excel Energy Center was all fenced off to people without credentials and it is so hard to find parking near the center.
Many changes to the convention started today as well. Due to hurricane Gustav President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not be speaking at the convention. I am looking forward to seeing how everything plays out this week with two major events happening to the United States (the convention and hurricane Gustav).
I do have to say the best part of this job is seeing famous/important people. Steffani and I started our day at the hotel where CBS is staying and as I was standing in the lobby Katie Couric walked in. I was just so disappointed I did not have my camera with me at the time.


RNC in St. Paul Prep Day Two (Sun. Aug. 31)

As it gets closer to the convention everything is getting more stressful. Today I ran around a lot more and had much more trouble getting places. The security at the convention center is very high. There are fences around the entire area with only a few check points to get in. After you finally get in security makes you show your credentials at almost every doorway.

The tech guys have been working very hard to get radio row and talk show row up and running. All of the affiliate stations came today and tried to set their own equipment up, but not without simple problems.

The big news today is how Hurricane Gustav is affecting the convention. Tomorrow, Monday, all of the speakers have been cancelled and the convention will only happen for a few hours in the afternoon. Basically, they are just holding the things that are absolutely necessary to keep the convention going. Most of the stations were broadcasting this news live. The picture shows CNN during their live shot from the Xcel Energy Center.

I am excited for the convention to finally begin. I am curious as to what will all still go on due to the hurricane. I’m sure it depends on the storms severity.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Prep Day One (Sat. Aug. 30)

Today was a great day, once we finally got started. One thing I’ve learned is that I truly am a runner…running to do or get whatever the boss, Craig, wants. But we got to see some very cool behind the scenes things.

The big picture: when you walk into the main floor where the convention will be held you see red, red, and more red with some white and blue thrown in. The seats on the floor where the delegates will sit are lower than the floor. Then the stage is plexiglass that reflects the backdrop screen. There are clear stairs that lead up to the stage. The stairs have lights in them that change colors. Everyone is running around putting things together so it will be ready when the main event begins on Monday. There are thousands of balloons on the ceiling waiting to be dropped.

I bet it is going to be a cool sight when they finally drop Thursday night for McCain!

So far my favorite part has been meeting people. We met many people that work for CBS, convention volunteers, and the secret service.


RNC in St. Paul Prep Day One (Sat. Aug. 30)

Today was our first day with CBS Radio. Our main runner duties today included moving boxes and putting up CBS posters. We talked to the engineers a lot today and they said they will have to put in a late night tonight because they have to make sure everything is up and running by Monday. Talking to these engineers made me feel for the media people at the Republican National Convention because they had such a fast turnaround to make from the Democratic Convention in Denver.
The atmosphere at the “pre-convention” is crazy. The Secret Service started to get tight this afternoon. Steffani and I had to make sure all of our things were out of CBS’s newsroom by 3:30 this afternoon so the Secret Service could make a sweep through it with drug dogs at 4:00.
The ground floor where all the speakers and delegates will be is so professional yet pretty. There is a huge backdrop made of hundreds of TV’s, and the stage reflects the backdrop as video is being played. I can tell there have been many hours in preparing for this week. I am very anxious to see all of this hard work put to use on Monday.


Friday, August 29, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Travel Day (Fri. Aug. 29)

Today Steffani Tollefson and I started our trip to the Republican National Convention. After getting lost for an hour trying to find our hotel we are finally able to relax and focus on the week ahead.
We have been looking forward to this opportunity all summer to work as runners for CBS Network Radio and for it to finally be here is very unreal. During this presidential election I have felt very lucky to be an Iowan, more so an Iowa reporter. This Republican Convention is just a stepping stone to what I did in Iowa. I was on the ground floor at the republican caucuses reporting election results to my home town radio station in Marshalltown, Iowa (KFJB 1230). Steffani and I have also done extensive research on the election process and on the candidates last fall in Dr. Jeff Stein’s Political Reporting class.
I would also like to say it feels great to be a woman today. Before we left for the Twin Cities John McCain selected his running mate and it was a woman, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. I am not saying I will vote for her just because she is a woman, but I do think this is going to be a historic, yet very interesting election.

Make sure you keep checking our blog all week for pictures, video, more blogging.
-Nikki Newbrough

RNC in St. Paul Travel Day (Fri. Aug. 29)

Hey this is Steffani. Nikki and I will be serving as runners at the Republican National Convention for CBS Network Radio. I am really excited to finally get things going after much anticipation this summer and our travel adventures today.

Being from MN I sort of know this area, so I figured driving to MN and finding our hotel would be no problem. We drove around for at least an hour and a half trying to find this hotel. We stopped for directions twice, before calling my Mom for the hotel phone number so we could figure out where it was…literally hiding behind a few bushes.

I think we’re going to have to call it an early night because we have to be at the Xcel Energy Center early tomorrow and need to allow time for the Twin Cities lovely rush hour traffic.

Be sure to keep reading our blog for updates on the RNC and some behind the scenes footage.

-Steffani Tollefson

DNC in Denver Day Four (Thu. Aug. 28)

Patriotism, Hope and Power can only begin to describe the feelings that could be felt throughout the 80,000+ spectators that filled the seats of Invesco Field to hear Barack Obama accept the nomination as the 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate. As crowds upon crowds lined the streets leading to Invesco Field one could feel the energy and historic happenings that were about to occur before our very eyes.

As we arrived at Invesco Field, one could not help but be filled with pride and patriotism as Shawn Johnson gave the Pledge of Allegiance. Various speeches and performances shortly followed including Bill Richardson, Stevie Wonder, Al Gore, Sheryl Crow and many other talented professionals. The excitement increasingly grew as the audience anticipated Obama's speech. Immediately before Obama took stage the crowd was brought to silence as a video played depicting Obama's childhood, his hardships and his rise to become the Democratic Presidential Nominee.

Many laughs were had and tears fought as Obama captured the emotions of all those in the audience. No matter ones view on his voting record or the promises that he makes as President, one has to admire him for his courage and his optimism that he inspires in all those around him. He has the power to influence everyone in hope for a better tomorrow. A belief that someone truly cares about them and that their leader will work hard for them everyday they are in office. Obama exclaimed that he is not where he is today because of anything he did but he is where he is because of the American people.

Barack Obama is a model for inspiration and for an individual's ability to change themselves, their situation and the communities in which they reside. No matter what the outcome of this election, Barack Obama will forever be an idol for the average American wanting and hoping for a change. He has motivated people across the United States to be better, to do better, and to continue to hope for more. America is truly better and more inspired now because of the efforts, the travels, and the speeches of Barack Obama.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC in Denver Day Three (Wed. Aug. 27)

The Convention continues on and many locals and spectators hope the chaos and commotion will begin to seize. As I talked with a Denver resident I began to find out the inconviences that are placed upon them as they try to survive the week. Businesses are closing their shops allowing employees the opportunity to avoid the crowds, Families have planned their vacations around the DNC so they can avoid the crowds all together, Schools have arranged their class schedules to avoid as many conflicts as possible and the list goes on. As annoyed as some Coloradans might be, many still feel the need to observe the ongoings of this historic event so that they too have a story to tell.

With all of the hard working and money that was spent to attact the DNC to the Mile High City, much of the publicity that the city and the organization of this event is getting is ctiricism and negativity. Images of corruption can be seen throughout the streets and throughout the media. In almost every area of the city, police are on guard waiting for the next fight to break out, drug to be dealt or any other illegal act that is occuring throughout this week. Police arrive in squat cars, ride throughout the city on horseback, foot or bike. Many police post themselves on street corners with video cameras and camers so they will have proof of any illegal activity that is occuring on the streets of Denver. No one is able to escape the view of another arrest or suspicious activity.

Through the convention I witnessed several arrests including the selling of cocaine, protesting and assults. The DNC has attracted many outsiders to the city who are looking to stir some commotion. Police are doing what they can to keep the city at ease but with such an increase in crowds it can be very hard to control. As I walked the streets near the Convention Hall, the images and feelings that surround you are unlike any city I have been in. As they convention goes on, it appears as if now only two types of people remain. The impatient one who increasingly becomes filled with anger and hatred because their goals of this week have not yet been met and their voice has not yet been heard. While the irritiable one is eager to leave the city as they have already had the experiences and opportunities that they expected to have.

Tomorrow will be the last day of the Convention with the finale being Barack Obama's acceptance speech. The time crunch is being felt with relief, eagerness and for some panic. The city of Denver has increased its population seemling over night and will clear out just the same. Everyone is geared up the final day with whatever that day might bring.

Here are some photos taken during the protests, and the city police reaction (see earlier DNC in Denver posts for details).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC in Denver Day Two (Tue. Aug. 26)

One might ask why someone might be willing to give of their time and money to be a delegate at the National Convention. This was a question that I began to focus on the more I learned of the delegate requirements including time, money, and the efforts that have to go in to campaigning to receive the honorable spot. In order to be a qualified National Convention Delegate, one must move up the ranks from precinct to district to state and then on to become a National Delegate. An election occurs at each of these steps which can require much time networking, campaigning and communicating why you are not only qualified but also deserving to serve as the voice within the area you are representing.

Once elected on the state level, delegates begin confirming hotel arrangements within their states assigned hotel, planning transportation, rsvping to dinners and rallies and scheduling days events while at the National Conventions. The preparation takes time but that is only the very beginning. As I talked with an Iowa delegate this morning, I began to get a better understanding of the various objectives the delegates have while attending the conventions. Some delegates use this as a way to serve their country, political party or their communities while others may use this opportunity for more selfish reasons by networking for possible future campaigning and fundraising.

Delegates are able to use this opportunity in a variety of ways. One could observe many deals being made, campaign money being raised and hands being shaken. For some this week is just another day at work while others view this week as an amazing vacation that was spent taking pictures and talking with celebrities that they would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. An Iowa delegate who is also a Political Science Professor at the University of Iowa said he is surprised at how little is accomplished at these conventions as he has so far been experiencing many motivational speeches and a lot of "fluff".

Overall, I believe that delegates walk away from this week with many different experiences and opinions as to the accomplishments and the future of their party. The experiences a delegate take away with depend on the state inwhich they represent, the amount of particpation they are involved with and the objectives and goals they had for the week. The diversity within the delegation is a key as to why the National Conventions can be interesting.

DNC in Denver Day One (Mon. Aug. 25)

Protestors, Delegates, Reporters, Politicians, and other political activists and observers began arriving on Sunday, August 24th. Each trying to find their own niche within the Convention and how they might be a part of history. With an online schedule of the weeks events, we (FINS) too tried to find where we might fit into this political realm. We decided to get a feel for the weeks events by heading downtown to observe rallies and protests while checking out the various booths being displayed on the Capitol Lawn.

As we walked the streets of Denver, one could feel the difference in objectives, backgrounds and knowledge that were displayed throughout a variety of means. Words cannot describe the passion and energy that was present from Union Station down the 16th Street Mall right up to the Colorado State Capitol. Everyone had something to say and a deep passion that had attracted them to this city.

The various interests groups and protestors brought a sense of hope and democracy that their efforts were making a difference in the upcoming presidential elections. Politicians worked endlessly networking with their parties influential leaders. Delegates can be seen wearing their badges with pride as they seem to glow with satisfaction of doing their part to represent their state at the National Convention. Spectators and Reporters scramble to catch the breaking news story whether that is the famous actress being seen eating on an outdoor patio on the 16th Street Mall or the Anti-War protestors causing a scene on a street corner as they debate those passing by.

The commotion is clear that Americans are passionate and eager to move past the current presidency and make the next chapter of the American story a historic one. This week, Denver is filled with political excitement much like that of New Hampshire and Iowa during the first in the nation primary and caucus. The atmosphere in many ways is quite different as Democrats fight to become united and to rally together as a party to win in November.

Friday, February 15, 2008

NIU Shooting: Journalists are human too

After the press conference, we headed to the Northern Star Headquarters. We received many different interviews. Our best one was with the editor-in-chief John. He was so calm about the whole situation. We stayed here for a majority of the time. Other news entities where coming in and out, trying to cover the same angle.
We left around 12:40 heading to a tip that there was a memorial set up around the shooting location. As we walked up the reality of it all began to sink in. Five white crosses with red writing symbolized the five students who were killed in Yesterday’s shootings. It was a very somber sight as we saw one student, Raquel who kept crying as she answered questions from the media sitting in the snow with her head in her hands.
Raquel had two friends who were shot, and one of those friends was dating one of the deceased. I felt bad for her, because no one around her could even begin to understand how she was feeling at that moment, but some tried. We listened to her story intently as she told us step by step what she hear. “Gunshots” she said, “that’s all I can remember”. She has that sound replaying in her head. One of the most memorable shots I have when talking with her is when she began to sob and a camera guy with a camera over his shoulder gave her a hug. It was a time that being with the press and ethics came into play. It was hard for many journalists there not to feel involved.
The next group of people that came to the cross memorial was a group of about 10 people, who brought flowers up to the crosses and then gathered in a circle and started praying. Getting through this tragedy together was a big prayer request. We then saw the governor of Illinois move by and headed to the crime scene…Cole Hall. Seeing where it actually took place created a very unusual feeling in the pit of my stomach.


A Fearless Leader

The Northern Star is the voice of Northern Illinois University. Just walking into their newsroom today and its clear, this group of college students mean business. Today is especially hard for them, covering the greatest tragedy their campus has ever seen.

Today the newspaper staff searches for answers. Unlike the other media that floods their campus, the staff of the Northern Star are reporting on their home front. Each and every news article they write has a personal connection. They are doing more than reporting on people, they are reporting on their friends, colleagues, and more importantly the place they call home.

Leading this group is Northern Star Editor in Chief, John Puterbaugh. John is a senior at NIU this year and like many of his cohorts, will never forget this day. For John these past few hours have been an adrenaline rush. I asked him what it has been like covering a story so close to home and he says you don't even have time to think. Beyond the lens of John's camera and beneath the bleed of his pen John is reporting a story that will make its mark in history.

Just talking with John and its apparent that he is strong in character. Even with every major media outlet biting at his heals he still found time to sit and talk with us. Holding back emotion and fear John shared both excitement and gratitude for his staff. He frequently comments on the near thirty staff members that came to work on today's paper.

Our deepest respect goes out to John and his staff. Together they work to share a voice, and a message that they hope will bring truth and closure to the NIU community.

Student Run Media; Just Like Us

After the press conference in Altgeld Hall we came to the Northern Star for see how NIU's student run newspaper was controlling things during this tragic event. To our surprise it was actually pretty calm. As we were talking with staff here we made connections with the editor and chief, John Puterbaugh. As we watched John talk to numerous reporters he kept telling them how proud he was with his staff. He explained that after everyone found out about the shootings he had about 30 staff memebers come to the newspaper office and help. He explained that everyone pitched in to put their next issue out today.

This only makes me wonder what our media staff would do with this situation. Would we be as calm as the Northern Star?

After all of this Travis, Natalie, and I know the improtance of our Wartburg media family and connection.

As we run on only hours of sleep, I can't help but wonder how much sleep the students here at Northern Illinois University must have got. As we approached the town, butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I got a wave of goose bumps. It is a surreal experience.

We are still waiting to hear from the authorities, as the conference has been delayed. We made contact with our student media members from the Northern Star (NIU newspaper), that we contacted last night. We are planning on following them throughout the day, getting a unique angle on how the tragedy impacted them.

We will update after the press conference.


Awaiting Press Conference

As a college student studying communication arts I can say this is one of the biggest events I have ever covered. Last night around midnight, myself, Natalie Tendall, and Nikki Newbrough took off to DeKalb, Il to cover the shootings at Northern Illinois University.

At about 9am us, along with national media will have the chance to question officials about this horrific event. This is the first time we have been in the mix with national media. All around us cameras, national news anchors, newspaper reporters and photographers crowd Altgeld Hall.

Stay tuned throughout the day for more postings. We will be uploading pictures and video as time permits.

Stay tuned!

Travis Bockenstedt