How we got the story

A week with BW in Denver


For our News Feature, Story of O, click here.

In the name of transparency, full disclosure and an inside look at the way BW works, here is a blow-by-blow account of our Democratic Convention 2008 coverage. Read this issue and next week's, as well as for continued coverage of the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

Wednesday, Aug. 13­—BW publisher Sally Freeman suggests we go to Denver to cover the Democratic National Convention, which has been planned for two years and starts in 12 days. I say, uh, OK.

Thursday, Aug. 14—BW submits a formal request for press credentials to the Democratic National Committee and gets a formal e-mail back that reads, sorry, you missed the deadline. I call Chris Lopez, a former newspaper editor of mine who works for the Denver Host Committee and whose Facebook page indicates he may have string-pulling power. He's not helpful. I call the local Barack Obama office to see what they can do, to no avail. They do not even have Internet access yet.

Sunday, Aug. 24—I arrive at Denver International Airport and find a dozen television cameras waiting as I step out of the gating area. They are not there for me. Utilizing another contact, I secure a temporary press credential, granting me access to the convention floor for a day with the possibility for more. I also make another formal request with the credentialing office, making a case for Idaho's media presence on the convention floor, and I'm told to return the next day. I case the Pepsi Center, get some food and hit the town. The regulars at Mynt, a mojito bar near the Pepsi Center, wonder where all the Democrats are. So do the strippers at the Diamond Cabaret.

Monday Aug. 25—I try to hit a DNC daily press briefing at the Denver Convention Center, but the thing does not seem to be happening though a few dozen press types have assembled. I can't get wi-fi in the Convention Center. I head to the DNC Black Caucus meeting, thinking, if there is going to be a black president, the black caucus will probably be a pretty hopping place. Hardly any media show up, and the panelists are fairly dry, but there is a palpable sense of progress in the room: 232 years of fighting for human rights is finally paying off. Late afternoon, it's off to the Pepsi Center for the first night of the convention. Most of the Idaho delegates are in their seats, beaming with history-making kind of excitement. Again, I spend an hour trying to find wi-fi rather than taking notes. Then Michelle Obama makes her debut and the crowd is transfixed. Afterward, Mynt is closed for a private party hosted by, Washington, D.C.'s hottest political news site, and Glover Park Group, a D.C. lobbying and political consulting firm with principals including Joe Lockhart, Bill Clinton's former spokesman, and a few other Clinton people. I sneak in early, get a corner table and observe the D.C. political-media juggernaut in all its glory. People try desperately to get into the party, Blackberrying their friends inside if they are not on the list. Many are turned away, including a wheelchair-bound man introduced as Dean Singleton, owner of the Denver Post and the man who drove me away from daily journalism.

Tuesday, Aug. 26—Slow morning. I bike around looking for protesters and have no luck. The protests all week are small and overwhelmed by law enforcement. I head to the Pepsi Center a bit late for Hillary Clinton's big speech, but the line is very long. I sit and watch people for about an hour—it's a fascinating array of folks in this line—and then decide to skip the speech. I head to my room, go for a swim and watch reruns of it on CNN later that night.

Wednesday, Aug. 27—In the morning, I head back to the Convention Center for a DNC Hispanic Caucus meeting featuring Michelle Obama. While many Hispanic leaders backed Hillary Clinton, Obama is a superstar by Wednesday morning. Then I go to a press conference with the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and its star Senate challengers. Though barricaded in by a scrum of reporters, I elbow up to the front and get in a question about Larry LaRocco's campaign. Sen. Chuck Schumer's ears perk up a bit, he praises LaRocco's campaign and then makes a sly remark about how tough Idaho is, and the press conference abruptly ends.

Thursday, Aug. 28—I travel light to Mile High Stadium, where Barack Obama is to give his acceptance speech, the biggest speech of the week in a week of lots of speeches. It takes about an hour to find the right entrance, and once in, I just sit in a decent section and do the observation thing. My last night in Denver was a late one, as Democrats roved the streets not wanting their week to end.