:: Monday, August 09, 2004 ::
Wow, what a great time! I got to learn a great deal more about careers in journalism and to see a lot of friends I only get to see once a year. It was an incredible experience to be a part of the largest gathering of journalists ever in the world (I think over 8,000 journalists attended the convention). Here's the first part of the day by day rundown (in the style my fellow bloggers enjoy using):
I arrived in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon. My ticket had only been purchased at 10 a.m. that morning after some mixup, the details of which are not entirely clear to me. There had been a lot of uncertainty prior to Wednesday morning as to whether I would actually be attending this journalism convention, since I didn't know the details of my transportation. However, I finally made it to D.C., and I took a taxi from the Reagan National Airport to the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel, which is located right next to the Washington Convention Center - the site of the UNITY 2004 journalism convention.
After meeting up with my scholarship director and checking in at the hotel, I went to my room and changed before heading back down to meet many of my fellow Knight Ridder friends. It was wonderful to see them again, and we were all excited to see each other. We had dinner at the hotel's fancy restaurant (I had a quesadilla appetizer and a salmon dish accompanied by a baked potato - butter and sour cream were the toppings). The dinner was enlivened by jokes from Cleve, my super-hilarious friend (he interned at The Tribune last summer with me). For dessert, I shared an apple pie dish with ice cream and tasty fruit sauce.
After dinner, we headed out to do some sightseeing of the city. We walked to the White House, and we saw both the front and the back of it. There was a lot of construction on Pennsylvania Avenue, the street on which the White House is located. We then walked to the Washington Monument and walked down The Mall to see the newly opened World War II Memorial. I really liked this memorial; there were many fountains, and they looked spectacular illuminated during the nighttime. Actually, all of the monuments we saw that evening were beautiful at night because of the lighting. We then walked along the reflecting pool (remember in the movie Forrest Gump where Forrest and Jenny are reunited wading into the reflecting pool?) towards the Lincoln Memorial. We went up the stairs and saw the towering statue of Mr. Lincoln. It was a very inspirational sight.
We then saw the Vietnam War Memorial, and that was an emotional site. It was a neat effect how you have to walk down a ramp in order to view the memorial, as that sort of set the tone for the memorial. Seeing all those names, you think about the life that was attached to that name... what was that person like? What was that person's life like?
Here are some photos from the sightseeing tour (photos by Cindy Wong, except for the second one, which was taken by a random tourist):
The White House
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Memorial in background
"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln"
The Vietnam War Memorial
After seeing the memorial, we returned to the hotel, and some of us remained in the hotel lobby to chat; since we only see each other once a year, we usually stay up late talking.
We met up at 7 a.m. on Thursday (despite having stayed up pretty late the night before) to get good seats to see Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry speak to the convention. For breakfast, we enjoyed Krispy Kreme doughnuts from the little cafe in the lobby of the hotel (which, for those interested, "proudly brews Starbucks coffee"). We then headed over to the convention center, where we had to go through heavy security in order to enter the hall. Before the speech began, however, I helped hand out maps of the city (Knight Ridder had produced the maps as a promotional item). I then watched John Kerry's speech.
Kerry's speech to the journalists was really good. It was so much better than his televised speech at the DNC. Although he delivered his standard stump speech (with many familiar phrases and comments), he still had a great amount of new material tailored to diversity issues and the role of the media. It made the speech very relevant.
We then met and had a conversation with the chief of the Knight Ridder Baghdad bureau, and she told us stories of what it's like to live and report in one of the most volatile regions on earth. An interesting moment was when the air conditioning suddenly started loudly with a rumble, and she froze for a moment before breathing a sigh of relief and saying, "Oh, it's not a bomb, just the air conditioning." At the end of her talk, she gave us actual Iraqi currency (I believe it's called the dinar) from the regime of Saddam Hussein. Since they don't use them anymore in Iraq, they aren't worth anything, but it's interesting to have a piece of world history. The bill is blue and has an image of the ousted dictator... very interesting.
Later in the afternoon, we returned to the convention center to listen to a speech delivered by Secretary of State Colin Powell. His speech covered various aspects of America's role in the world and U.S. foreign policy, including attacking Iraq. It was kind of disappointing in that he was acting as just a mouthpiece of the Bush Administration, but at least he was the one in the administration who championed going to the U.N. for more international support.
In the evening, we met up once again and went to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where we went to the Native American Journalists' Association dinner. There was an interesting keynote speaker who talked at length about various Native American issues. The emcee for the evening was quite extravagant and amusing. I believe he is also a part-time actor, and I can definitely see him doing a great job in that profession. After the dinner, we conversed for a bit in the hotel lobby, but we left early because we had to meet at 7 a.m. the next morning for breakfast.
To be continued...
Quote of the Day: "Oh, Sam J, you're so quaint!"
:: SL 5:36 PM [+] ::