Reporting at the GOP Convention in Tampa

I spent the last week here in Tampa, Fla., roaming the city and the floor of the convention hall with a video camera, reporting with The New York Times.

These conventions have become mostly acts of stagecraft, with every minute carefully scripted and managed (except for the rare moment when a “mystery guest” decides to talk at length to an empty chair). There’s rarely any high drama on the floor, and little room for debate or discord. Protesters are briskly ushered out by the hundreds of security agents inside the hall, and no real discussion is encouraged outside of committee meetings in hotel conference rooms. But there was one moment on Tuesday, when supporters of congressman Ron Paul and other grassroots delegates like the Tea Party, objected to a change in the rules that they believed gave the party apparatus greater power over the selection of delegates. I connected with the delegation from Maine which, through a clever calculation of the rules and the power of local participation, had a large majority of Ron Paul supporters among its ranks, even though Paul did not place first in the Maine caucuses. Half of Maine’s delegates were stripped from the delegation by the RNC brass the previous week, and they were fighting mad.  I happened to be right next to the microphone when the remaining Paulites in the delegation rose to object and were ignored by the speakers at the podium and shouted down by other delegates in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Here’s the piece as it ran on the NYTimes site.

Medill Documentaries: A Summer of Stories

If you’re in the Chicago area this Thursday, please join us:


Peace Dogs – Dan Sauer came back from the first Gulf War with a traumatic brain injury, shrapnel in his eye and a case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Chloe was abandoned when disaster struck Joplin, Mo., and later rescued from an animal shelter. A story of how a little dog helps a big marine live a more normal, peaceful life.

Grass-fed Roots: The Q7 Story – Dave Rand is not your regular everyman: Husband, forager for high-quality sustainable food, and, most recently, a grass-fed beef entrepreneur at Quarter Circle 7 Ranch. Dave has become a fixture in Chicago’s local food scene. But when a crisis strikes Q7 Beef, it rocks Dave and the young company to the core.

Gingarte – Mestra Marisa Cordeiro founded Gingarte Capoeira Chicago, the city’s first to teach the Afro-Brazilian martial-art-form. After running the school for more than twenty years, Marisa prepares her students to take the reins.

The Man Behind the Mill – When Dave Jemilo bought a piece of Chicago history, an erstwhile speakeasy called The Green Mill, he wanted to do more than just preserve an icon. Over 26 years he has restored the uptown jazz haven and cocktail lounge to its former glory and, in the process, revitalized himself.

366 – What would compel a young father to devote himself to doing a random act of kindness every day during a leap year? Ryan Garcia says he has one great reason for doing 366 good deeds.

Knowing Nick & Nate — The moving story of a family’s quest to show how their two autistic boys are just like any other.

7:00 – 9:00 PM