Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Tracie Mauriello is headed to Tampa to cover her first political convention. She’s agreed to share her challenges and triumphs with NPF Newsbag readers.
T-shirts, temporary tattoos and cruise tickets: All these and more were for sale (this right?) at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where I wound up last evening for a festival in honor of Ron Paul called P.A.U.L. Fest. (It's an acronym -- don't ask.)
Organizers said they expect 10,000 over the course of the three-day party. But when I arrived about five hours in – after a $30 cab ride – there were scarcely 200 milling about. A few more had trickled in by the time I left three hours later. Still, the bands playing raucous libertarian anthems made it sound like a wild party in the exposition hall.
Given the thin crowd, I was worried about finding enough material for my story, but I got lucky. A volunteer from western Pennsylvania heard me say I’m from his hometown paper, so he rounded up a delegate from the Pittsburgh area, who introduced me to a third western Pennsylvanian. Yes! Those interviews will make my reporting just a little more relevant back home.
My next challenge was to shoot some photos and video for my colleague Steve Mellon, who is working on a short video project on Ron Paul. Steve arrives tonight and plans to cover Ron Paul’s speech at the Sun Dome tomorrow, but he wants to include some material from P.A.U.L. Fest, too. I’m neither a photographer nor a videographer, but I did my best. I’m anxious to see if he can use what I shot.
Before leaving home, I had been in touch with a member of the festival organizing committee by e-mail. That planning paid off when I was able to track her down for a quick pad-and-pen interview and some comments on video. (You’ll have to read my story Sunday to find out what she said.)
By the time I finished, my colleague Jim O’Toole was off deadline and ready to pick me up. He had been covering a convention Rules Committee meeting about 10 miles away.
We had a late dinner (including the biggest piece of carrot cake I’ve ever seen) and talked about our coverage plans for the next few days. This is his 13th political convention, so he’s a real pro. Maybe someone will say that about me in 2036.
If you’re keeping score:
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