Watching the press at the DNC

Tuesday, July 26: Close encounters

All photos by Nina Berman

Shifting from the RNC in Cleveland to the DNC in Philadelphia, the press working to cover the Democrats inside the convention hall have to battle for less space, bigger crowds, and a security perimeter so wide, it nearly extends to New Jersey.

Absent are the well-marked delegate areas, the ability to move freely up and down the aisles, the sanctuary of relative calm in the upper tiers of Quicken Loans Arena–the ingredients that made conditions at the RNC bearable.

Instead, the DNC is a loud, sweaty mess. Television reporters and photojournalists, floor passes in hand, stand four to five hours a day crushed together for a glimpse at the speakers, continuously ushered along by security and told: “You can’t stand here.”

On Tuesday night, the fire marshals shut the convention floor.

The visual signature of the two conventions are also quite different. The RNC was mainly red, of course, while the DNC is mostly blue. The RNC featured multiple large screens looming above the convention hall, LCD ticker tape slogans and Twitter hashtags scrolling endlessly along the perimeter, and a large space right in front of the stage for pool press.

The DNC has few screens, but the stage is noticeably larger and a bit higher than that at the RNC, and it extends deep into the floor space–a configuration more appropriate for a Taylor Swift concert than speakers at a podium.

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The physical layout and security perimeters in the convention hall also make it far more difficult for solo journalists to cover events both inside and outside. Photographers and TV crews must enter security gates more than a mile away from public transportation stations and taxi drop-off points.

Some photographers estimate that a typical work day is 14 hours, while walking the equivalent of eight miles, much of it outside in more than 90-degree heat.

Yet, despite the conditions, the conventions offer the priceless opportunity to get up close and personal to senators, governors, and members of Congress, who are also packed into the hall like sardines, with nowhere to run.

These photos will also be featured on CJR’s freshly launched Instagram account. Follow us @columbiajournalismreview.

See our photos from the RNC here.



Washington Post Reporter Robert Samuels interviews North Carolina delegate Veleria Levy during the roll call vote on the convention floor.


US Senator Cory Booker is interviewed by New Jersey press at the NJ delegation on the convention floor.


Illinois delegate Olivia Love Hatlestad, 19 years old, on the convention floor. She says she’s with Bernie but “not ‘Bernie or bust.’ “


AP photographer Mark J. Terrill works a 600mm lens and several remote cameras. He is one of more than a dozen shooters for the AP at the convention.


Time photographer Ben Lowy on the convention floor with his Ricoh Theta 360-degree camera pointed down to photograph himself and his surroundings


US Senator Mark Warner from Virginia is prepped and readied to be interviewed.


Broadcasters cram onto the floor of the DNC at Wells Fargo Arena during the roll call vote for the presidential nomination.


US Senator Charles Schumer on the convention floor


MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews


MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews


A delegate waves a Hillary Clinton fan.


Democracy Now Amy Goodman on the convention floor


Broadcasters cram on to the floor of the DNC at Wells Fargo Arena during the roll call vote for the presidential nomination. Fire marshals closed the floor at one point. The DNC is far more crowded than the RNC with less room for press.


NPR reporter


US Senator Barbara Boxer of California at the California delegation


Fans spray cool mist on delegates arriving at the convention. TV and photo media, meanwhile, were forced to enter far from the convention hall. Temperatures in Philadelphia were in the 90s.


Pro-Bernie Sanders protesters outside the DNC convention hall after Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate.


Wells Fargo Arena


America signs are passed around on the convention floor.


Former US President Bill Clinton speaks about his wife Hillary Clinton at the DNC on the night she was officially nominated.


Bernie Sanders announces Hillary Clinton as the Democractic candidate for president during the roll call tally of delegates.


Vermont delegates react after Bernie Sanders announces Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president.

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Nina Berman is a photographer and an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism