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Diplomacy in Action

Orientation on Applying for Work Spaces, Sky Boxes, and Stand-Up Positions for National Conventions and Accreditation

Olga Ramirez Kornacki, Director of the House Radio and TV Gallery
Washington, DC
January 30, 2012

1:30 P.M.


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us on the Foreign Press Center. We have with us today Olga Ramirez Kornacki. She’s the Director of the House Radio and TV Gallery, and she agreed to come here today to just speak generally about the political conventions in August and September and what information broadcasters – foreign broadcasters will need to cover these.

So with that, I’ll just let Olga jump right in.

MS. KORNACKI: Hi. Thank you all for coming today. We really appreciate your visiting – allowing us to visit with you.

With me, I have Andy Eias, who’s my deputy director, and Anthony Kellaher, who will be actually the point person at the conventions for international broadcasters. We each have different assignments, and I thought it would be important, since there’s a whole – a lot of you all, to have one person to go to. Certainly, Andy and I are available if you have any questions, but Anthony is the one that will be handling your questions beforehand and on site.

What we – the House Radio-TV Gallery is responsible for the conventions. We’ve been doing it since the 1960s, and we do it as a – journalists trust us in Washington, D.C. for being non-political, nonpartisan. And the parties actually rely on us to help with the credentialing process. Since we are nonpartisan, we can look at a group that may be too liberal or too conservative and say yes, they are news journalists, and give them credentials to the convention.

There are three dates that you need to keep in mind. February 1st is the application for work space. I don’t think many of you are going ask for work space. April 15th is the deadline for the credentials request. That’s simply that you’re going to come get credentials and use credentials, and you don’t need any work space to do anything. And then March 1st, because the Democrats announced that there will be a fourth night – different venue on a fourth night, they – that March 1st is the deadline for applying for credentials and work space for that event.

The Republicans so far have not – are not going to have a fourth night somewhere else. They will all be at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. In Charlotte, as you know, we have the first day, a Monday, which is a holiday, will be spent at the speedway for a Labor Day family picnic celebrating labor and families. On the – then the next two nights will be at the arena. And then the fourth night will be at the Bank of America Stadium. Bank of America Stadium, for those of you all who were with us in Denver, is pretty much a mirror image of what we’re looking at the Bank of American Stadium. Stand-ups and work space will be about the same as they were there.

In the arena in Charlotte, we are still a little bit behind the curve in determining where a lot of, like, the broadcast seats are, where the radio talk show row is. But generally, you all come to the convention, you get credentials, you’ll be given a perimeter pass and a building pass and building pass. There are several layers of credentials. You will come to our floor pass line and then you will go on the floor. They’ll be time-limited on the application. We do that for every broadcaster, not just you all. But every broadcaster who comes through our floor pass line will be time-limited. And it’s only because we have a limited number of credentials.

The Democrats and Republicans have told me both that we will get much fewer credentials than we did four years ago. Four years ago, the – for the Democrats, we had something like 7,000 requests for credentials, and they gave us something like 5,000 – 5,500 credentials. So you can see the – what we’re working against. We simply tell them how many we need and then they say that’s terrific, here’s your number. And it’s always low, much lower than what we expect. In the floor pass line, you will essentially turn in the credential we give you and we will then give you a floor pass and you all go out onto the floor.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible) in Denver, yeah.

MS. KORNACKI: Exactly. Just like in Denver. Nothing has changed. We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re just going to continue with what we are doing.

The parties have yet to tell us where our work space will be. But essentially, once you apply online, which is at HouseRadioTV – HouseRadiotTV-dot?


MS. KORNACKI: --, I apologize. Go online, you fill out the application, you will get an answer back saying that you – thank you for the application. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from us for a long time because that’s – it takes us that long to gather all the information. You will then hear from us in an accreditation letter. We will confirm. We will say your news group has applied for 10 credentials; you will receive 10 credentials and you will pick them up at this location. At that time, we are hoping to have the ability to have you all enter a link where you will give me your names and all the pertinent information that I need for security.

And then you fill that out, it’ll come to us, we will add it to your existing document, and then you come to the – once you’re at the convention site, come to the office where we’ve designated for pickup at a time for pickup, and then you get your credential and go.

Can you add anything to that?

PARTICIPANT: Just to quickly clarify, on the February 1st deadline, that’s the work space and also broadcast space. And it’s been our experience that many of you who require live broadcast positions, you’ll work with a partner like Reuters or CBS Newspath, and that they will handle all of that for you. But to the extent that you don’t require a live position – and this is really specifically TV – the April 1st deadline will probably apply to many of you.


QUESTION: My name is Zoltan Mikes. I’m from the World Business Press Online news agency from Slovakia. And the last time – we are a news agency but we are – this event we are covering also for the TV – TVs in our country, so I will have a camera. The last time, then, I had a camera, despite the fact that I was credentialed in the house by the Daily Press (inaudible) I applied to you (inaudible) you.

PARTICIPANT: I can’t remember.

QUESTION: Yes. Yes, and is this now the same case with here – will be the – should I apply to the TV, and how, through you, or should I go through – did it changed?

PARTICIPANT: Our view is that, depending on what sort of equipment you sort of employ as you cover the conventions, that’ll dictate where you go. So if you were going to be using a video camera at any point, we ask that you come through us.

QUESTION: Okay. So I will again apply through you.


MS. KORNACKI: Right. And it’s important not to double-dip. Don’t go to one gallery and then come to us, because we do talk to each other and it may very well be that since one or another of us may not have talked to you, we may say oh, well, if you’re taking care of him and the other group thinks oh, we’re a TV, you’re taking care of him, and you end up with no credentials. So it’s important to --

QUESTION: I will just (inaudible) because I am credentialed at (inaudible). I (inaudible) if you don’t tell me that you – that I should go there and then I (inaudible) by him. So I will then just go tell you and that’s it.

PARTICIPANT: Just so you know, just – the problem that we run into, and in – and you all would run into on site is that if you have a camera with you and you’ve applied through Joe Keenan (ph), presumably there might be a spot set aside for you at that press cam location. The problem is they don’t allow you to bring that camera up onto the press stand.


QUESTION: This is why I will --


QUESTION: -- tell you.

PARTICIPANT: Right. And so if you come through us, you won’t have that issue, and we can work with you. Yeah.

MS. KORNACKI: Right. Anything else?

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

MS. KORNACKI: (Inaudible) have anything that you would like to add from your experience in talking with other people (inaudible)?

PARTICIPANT: Well, just apply through the website. I’ll personally give you guys a call, hopefully within the next few weeks after you do some of that initial application, just kind of informally chat and talk to you about your needs. But just make sure that you pay attention to the deadlines because as we go, after some – the live location needs, you might not exactly get a – everything that you would need to have. But yeah, expect a call from me and I’d be happy to chat with you guys afterwards, and a follow-up after you’ve done that or anything like that.

MS. KORNACKI: So one thing to keep in mind: Because we are dependent upon the parties for the credentials, I can tell them I have 7,000 requests for credentials, and as I said, they’ll come back and they’ll say to me here’s your 5,500. What you all should keep in mind is we will try to come as close as we can to the numbers of credentials that you have applied for. The credentials are non-person specific, so that if you are a band of five people, please do not expect to have all five people in the arena at the same time. You may have some mix of two people may be at the arena, two people may be in our floor pass line, and two may be in the perimeter, and one may have to stand outside, or two may have to stand outside. So please bear in mind that we will try to accommodate your wishes as best we can, but we have to divide these credentials up.

So when you get the credentials, don’t say, “This is my credential and that’s all there is to it.” You will have to probably share it with your colleagues. So that while two people are on the floor, two people are in the perimeter, one person’s outside, then the two people who are on the floor come back, give to the perimeter folks, switch off the credentials, and then the person who’s outside gets to come in. You have to manage your credentials to a degree.

PARTICIPANT: And just to sort of clarify that, when Olga says perimeters, that means actually inside the perimeter but allowing to actually get to the work space that we’re aware the Foreign Press Center has applied for and will be assigned, which is – has been similar to the case in previous conventions.


PARTICIPANT: So at the very least, all of your personnel will be able to be at that work space --


PARTICIPANT: -- while some of you are potentially inside the arena.


MODERATOR: Excuse me. New York has a question.



QUESTION: This is Azim Mian from Geo Television in the region of Pakistan. (Inaudible) previously (inaudible) and I need your help to understand how to work out this thing, but I do correspond fulltime because my group owns a television station, we own some (inaudible) how you work as a group correspondent for the whole network. So once I – last year, the last time I applied and I got only from the press media. So what is the best way to find a solution to this problem of people like me who have to report on the TV as (inaudible) to the print media?

PARTICIPANT: Well, how did that work against you? What was the problem you ran into?

QUESTION: I was here only (inaudible) media, and then I had a problem in having access to the – with the camera because I had arranged for the camera.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.) Yeah. So --

QUESTION: And I couldn’t get it, and I was actually bracketed with CNN at that time, just to use that (inaudible) from. And still, my cameraman had a lot of problem similar. I was there because the – all the (inaudible) and the News International, which was the print media. And I had applied and I had mentioned that I represent Geo Television of Pakistan. I represent the daily (inaudible) and the News international, all three together.

PARTICIPANT: So our suggestion, again, would be to have you apply through us. That’s – that would certainly be one way to avoid that problem because, obviously, we handle the cameras. You would never run into any troubles in terms of getting to locations that we assign, or at least can give you access to. I think that would probably be the cleanest way to do it. We can also handle any sort of work space request you may have that the print gallery otherwise may have handled in the past, because we assign all those same locations but, again, have credentials that will cover you in terms of television.

QUESTION: Very kind. So (inaudible) you say apply to watch news through the Foreign Press Center?

PARTICIPANT: No, the radio-TV gallery.


QUESTION: Okay. (Inaudible).


QUESTION: Oh, good point. And that’s where I came last time, too, when – because at Madison Square of New York, Republican convention. Thank you.

MS. KORNACKI: And see, I think that’s also the problem, that if you applied to one group, then our group may have said you already have an application in and we didn’t take any further action.

QUESTION: I only applied – I applied with the radio-TV organization – House. Thank you.




MODERATOR: Or can you come closer to the microphone?

QUESTION: Oh, sure. I’m (inaudible) from Colombia. And my question has to do with the work space. What includes – what’s included on the work space? Like (inaudible).

MS. KORNACKI: Oh. Well, it’s a – there’s an unassigned work space area where they will provide power --

PARTICIPANT: Power and the internet, yeah.

MS. KORNACKI: And the internet. That’s about it, yeah.

PARTICIPANT: And that’s not something you would apply for. That again, it’s just a general press room.

MS. KORNACKI: It’s unassigned, so you would show up, and if there’s space, you sit down and use the space.

PARTICIPANT: Right. And then you also then have the option – and again, this is where the February 1st deadline is applicable – to apply for just raw square footage that’s unfinished that you would sort of would have to finish, ordering tables, chairs, phone, internet, et cetera. We also now have a new option this year where you can simply request a desk, and actually up to four desks if you don’t want, again, just sort of unfinished square footage. You would also, though, have to equip your desk with internet and phone, I believe. I think power would be included.


PARTICIPANT: But again, if you don’t want your own area, you can use the general work space unassigned.

QUESTION: Yeah. I’m sorry. To follow up on that one, we apply already for that, so that’s the only one we need to apply for. We didn’t ask for a specialty place or (inaudible) platform or anything. And we’re using Reuters Television for that, so they would take care of (inaudible).

MS. KORNACKI: Okay. But – that’s perfect. You’re fine.

PARTICIPANT: All right. If I can just add something to that, in addition to the unassigned work space provided by the galleries, the Foreign Press Center will offer a filing center for foreign journalists only that will include internet connectivity, phones, power, and there would also be a briefings space where we will work to bring political analysts for you to interview on spot. So that will be in addition to the unassigned space, and it won’t be application; it’ll, like, be unassigned space. It’ll be first come, first served.

QUESTION: And at the site?

PARTICIPANT: That will be at both sites.

QUESTION: I had a quick question. Tim Kim from Korea. So once the credentials have been given to – for example, I’m applying for three. And let’s say that one or another person can’t make it for some emergency and we need to switch the person, would it be possible to give me the name and, like, the updated information?

MS, KORNACKI: Yes, and that is later in the process. And – because we understand lots of things happen. People get transferred, people lose their jobs, they break their legs, they get hurt. Anything happens. And what we – the way I view our application is it’s a – sort of a living, breathing thing. So once you get this acknowledgement letter and you send back your three names and the information, if closer to the convention somebody does fall out or has – is reassigned to cover the Olympics, then yes, you can notify us and you can change.

We’re hoping that the – our tech support folks will allow you go back into this document and change out the name and end the new name. So that should not be a problem. The great thing about this new system is that it is up to you to manage your names and your information. Before, what we would do is we would take your information and data entry it in, and the potential for making mistakes is great because you’re entering 600 names in. So if you just enter in your name, then you should be good to go.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from COPE, from Spain. And we are going to have, like, other convention and a spot for broadcast, we have to share the table where we can connect the lines, an ASDN line, and seen the convention, (inaudible) like that video?

PARTICIPANT: The broadcast use, that’s right. You can have the – that’s where, again, the February 1st is important. Correct.

MS. KORNACKI: Right. That’s important. Right.

QUESTION: And you know the way which companies going to give us the service to – we have to connect the lines and --


MS. KORNACKI: Well, I think (inaudible) – isn’t it – Bright House is in Tampa.



PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible) there’s the contactor

MS. KORNACKI: They’re the construction contractor.

PARTICIPANT: I’m not sure who the telecom is in Denver, or – sorry.

QUESTION: And do you know when --

MS. KORNACKI: They just sent out an email.

PARTICIPANT: They did. Yeah. There’s something. It’s been named, and so we can get you all that information.

MS. KORNACKI: We can get that for you. If you give us your card, we’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Okay. And they already begin to – all the process to rent the line and all that --

MS. KORNACKI: No, it’s too early. They don’t take possession until July 15th or something like that. So that’s when all the work goes in. Right now, the sites belong to the owners of the buildings. And it is only in July when the parties take over, and then everything becomes theirs.

QUESTION: All right. Quick follow-up (inaudible). My name’s Rob Gentry, TV Asahi. On the procedure on the work spaces, will the FPC work space be inside the perimeter? And my other question is: For those of us who have work spaces where we’re going to be outside the perimeter --

MS. KORNACKI: You’re not the only one. Very many of you.

QUESTION: -- what kind of effort is going to be made for getting us in and out of the perimeter? I mean, people who have to go into a (inaudible) position, perhaps with a domestic affiliate coordinating back outside, again back in, or in and out of the perimeter all day long.

MS. KORNACKI: Well, we’re hoping that the Secret Service and the – we know that we will get a dedicated entrance. We do know that. So you won’t have to stand in line with all the delegates and all the folks who are attending the convention. So there will be a press entrance, as there always is. Going in and out, your credentials should be able to get you in and out. I don’t – I can’t guarantee anything, but I think every effort will be made, recognizing that a group is going live or on the air.

PARTICIPANT: And traditionally, they also assign parking as well --


PARTICIPANT: -- where you – I think you have to purchase --

MS. KORNACKI: You have to pay for it for a week.

PARTICIPANT: -- dollars.


PARTICIPANT: And we hope that’ll be the case again. So parking is really limited in Tampa.


PARTICIPANT: Just – it’s a small area down there. But do we have the (inaudible) specs on those spaces?


QUESTION: Usually in the past (inaudible) first thing in the morning, long line, but then the rest of the day it’s not too bad.

MS. KORNACKI: Okay. Yeah.

QUESTION: There have been some where it’s been a space problem.

MS. KORNACKI: Right. Right. My only recommendation, particularly with regard to the last night, is don’t leave. Have a runner meet you at the fence, so that you don’t leave the perimeter but the runner’s standing there and you pass something through the fence so that they can do the running back and forth. The last night will be almost impossible to move, I would think.

PARTICIPANT: And on the Foreign Press Center work space, each site has an arena where the main action will be at the floor. And then next door, in both Tampa and Charlotte, there’s a convention center. So the Foreign Press Center’s filing center will be in that convention center in each city. And I’m not sure, is that – is the center inside or outside?

MS. KORNACKI: They have not made that determination because, in one case, it’s three blocks away and in another place – case, it’s two blocks away, and they just haven’t configured the space yet.



QUESTION: And so there could be multiple security bounds?

MS. KORNACKI: Yes. Absolutely. They tell us that in Tampa, that it will be a covered tent connecting the arena to the convention center space. They’re hoping to have it air conditioned, they’re hoping to have shuttles taking folks back and forth, and they’re hoping to utilize in Tampa this little tram that runs back and forth between the venues. And in Charlotte, it’s three longer blocks away. And there is a little train that goes back and forth, but Secret Service has yet to determine whether that train will be allowed to go back and forth between the venues.

QUESTION: I have something. My name is Ivica Puljic. I’m from Al Jazeera Balkans. I hope that you are aware that the (inaudible) like Al Jazeera (inaudible) English and now --

MS. KORNACKI: English and – yeah.

QUESTION: -- everybody’s in Balkans. And we don’t have all the same connections. Like organizations, if we need – I don’t – three spaces, we need three spaces, you are not connected with our branch.

MS. KORNACKI: Yeah. Yeah, we are familiar. We worked with your team for the State of the Union and for other large events. And we’re learning that you are very much like NBC and CNBC.

QUESTION: Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Any further questions, either here or in New York? If not – or –

QUESTION: I have a question. So that means that (inaudible) and the final deadline is to filing February 1st?

MS. KORNACKI: For work space, it is February 1st; for space at the Bank of America Stadium, March 1st; and then for just plain credentials, it’s April 15th.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Any final questions? If not, we want to – I want to thank Olga again for coming over, and her team. And she has also said that she’ll be available for a few minutes after this, and so will the Foreign Press Center staff if you have further questions. So once again, thank you, and enjoy your day.

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