Last Night’s Obamappearance: Reporters Surprised, As Well

I watched last night’s floor speeches—Joe Biden’s acceptance of the Dems’ VP nomination; Bill Clinton’s acceptance of a more general variety—from the Invesco box at the Pepsi Center, directly behind the rows reserved for the writing press.

During the Clinton and Biden speeches, all was quiet in those rows. While the rest of the room went wild for the former president and senator—not to mention the videos screened for the crowd and the other speakers accompanying the stars’ remarks—the reporters sat, calm and mostly silent, reading the printouts of the speeches handed out by DNC staffers, browsing the Web, and clacking away on their laptops.

While the rest of the room radiated Biden Red, the reporters’ section was bathed in a colorless glow.

But then—surprise!—Obama took the stage. And chaos ensued. Print reporters—some of whom had already left the Pepsi Center’s inner sanctum, thinking the evening’s events were over—rushed back into the arena, clogging the aisles, jockying for space. They frantically grabbed their cameras—a few fancy, professional-looking contraptions; several basic point-and-shoots; and many, many cell phones—to record the moment for their news organizations. And, more generally, for themselves.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.