John K. Hartman
Author of The USA Today Way books
 
 
 

 

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The stadium speech

 
After giving his acceptance speech. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., waves to the crowd as he exits the podium at Invesco Field in Denver during the final day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
(AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez - Rocky Mountain News)

 

By JOHN K. HARTMAN
Sun Special Correspondent

DENVER-- The first bus to Invesco Field at Mile High, the scene of Barack Obama's acceptance speech, was full and crowded. At 1:30 we left the holels in Broomfield. We arrived 45 minutes later at the stadium parking to summer heat and long lines. It took an hour to get through security and nearly two hours start to finish to find a seat 10 rows in front of the giant scoreboard in the south end zone of the football stadium.
The crowd was building and I wondered if Obama could fill the 76,000 seat stadium. It turned out yes and no. Because thousands were seated on the field, the crowd was estimated at 85,000, but there were several thousand seats empty in the stands. None around me.

 
Obama and his family celebrate on stage after Obama delivered his speech.
(AP Photo/The Rocky Mountain News, Darin McGregor)

 

The names of Denver Bronco greats are posted around the stadium. It reminded me of taking my father, the late Harvey H. Hartman, a big Bronco fan and a longtime Colorado resident, to the last game in the old Mile High Stadium. It was nearly a decade ago. As my father taught me to treat all persons equally and to be rid of all manner of prejudices, I felt he would be proud that this event featuring the first black major party presidential nominee was being held in Denver and that I was in attendance.

 
***
 

Obama continued to cater to the young by inviting folks to text message their names and states and had a competition to see which state had the most hits. It also gathered a list of supporters and attendees for future campaign purposes.

 
***
 

Obama's catch phrase "yes, we can," seemed to be an evolved version of Black civil right leader Jesse Jackson's "I am somebody."

 
Unidentified people watch as Obama delivers his speech.
(AP Photo/The Rocky Mountain News, Barry Guiterrez)
 

Sheryl Crow got the crowd rocking singing about change, winding roads and sunny days. Many folks sang along.

 
***
 

www.BarackObama.com was plastered throughout the stadium. I guess if one is planning to run for president some day, it would be wise to reserve one's name as a domain name.

 
Obama, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and their families celebrate onstage after Obama's acceptance speech.
(AP Photo/Preston Gannaway/Rocky Mountain News)
 

I tuned to NPR for a while. One radio reporter found it interesting that attendees were eating stadium food like nachos and hot dogs. Another commented on the beautiful sunset on the perfectly clear day in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. An third praised the Democrats for magnificent stagecraft, a la a football bowl game. A black woman told a reporter the Obama would be a good role model for black children. I think that is why Oprah Winfrey risked her fame endorsing Obama. She believed it would be good for the black community from a sociological perspective.


 
Colorado Delegate Vivian Stovall of Denver reacts as Obama speaks on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
(AP Photo/Cyrus McCrimmon - The Denver Post)


 
In front of me, a young black man gets his picture taken holding a U.S. flag and a "Change" sign. The pride that blacks feel in Obama was palpable. In the basement press area after the event, a young black male photographer threw off his veil of objectivity and walked out of the building holding a change sign aloft. It was a magical day for black Americans, and for all Americans who believe that folks should be judged by their character and accomplishments, not by the color of their skin.

 
***
 

Somewhere, up there, Harvey H. Hartman is smiling.

(John C. Hartman is a Central Michigan University journalism professor who is blogging about the Democratic National Convention for the Morning Sun.)
(Editor's note: Hartman sent this early Friday, but technical difficulties prevented us from posting it until Sunday. Jack made his deadline.)
 
 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Class - right from scene

 
By JOHN K. HARTMAN
Sun Special Correspondent

DENVER - I was able to link up through the online Blackboard system with 29 of my students in journalism issues class, that I ordinarily would have been teaching in person on Wednesday nights at CMU. We text-chatted about the media coverage of the convention. I reminded them of their assignments for next Wednesday night. One of them figured out how to use the audio feature and started talking to the class. I asked him to stop. The college students are just so far ahead of me from a technological perspective. (But I like to believe I can still out-think them!)



 
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, speaks with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as he holds his grandson Hunter at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

On the bus after the convention session Wednesday night, the driver asked me if it was really true that Barack Obama came out on the stage to join Joe Biden after the latter’s speech. Some passengers were doubting the driver. I said it was true. A few minutes later I called up the picture of Obama and Biden together via cnn.com on my Blackberry. The bus driver passed it around to the doubters with enthusiasm. I guess I am closer to state of the art technology ability on that front.

 
***
 

Delegates carry placards and pole signs onto the bus and keep them as souvenirs. A fresh set is issued the next night.

 
***
 

I boarded a cab to take me back to the Pepsi Center from a restaurant in downtown Denver, but the driver could only get three blocks before he encountered barricades. Cost me $5. Should have walked.

 
***
 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s husband, Dan Mulhern, was master of ceremonies for the Thursday morning Michigan delegation breakfast. He said the Democrats must have “message discipline” in order to win in November. Speakers included Gov. Phil Bredensen of Tennessee, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, U.S. Rep John Dingell and his wife, Debbie Dingell.
The congressmen told the crowd not to send him to Washington by himself and added, “Things that bring us together are far more than things that divide us.”
Mrs. Dingell echoed Mulhern, “We must stop letting other people (Republicans) define us (Democrats).”

 
***

 
Granholm headlined Thursday’s press briefing. She said President Bush would not help manufacturing and would not enforce trade agreements (that have hurt Michigan) and that John McCain would be “more of the same.”

 
***
 

State chairman Mark Brewer answered a question directed at Granholm about the effect of the controversy over the possible removal of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
He said the matter, which Granholm could resolve by removing the mayor as early as next week, would not be a factor. Other political observers are no so confident because if substantial numbers of Detroit’s largely black population become unhappy and stay home Nov. 4, it would affect Obama’s chances of carrying Michigan.

 
***
 

Six of my students emailed questions for Granholm. I gave them to her aide and asked for responses. Tiffany Brown, her communications assistant, promised answers.

 
***
 

A former student of mine at CMU from a decade ago, Jason Ellenburg, is making it very big in politics. He is managing the re-election campaign of Sen. Carl Levin. We got reacquainted Thursday morning.

 
***
 

The driver, a middle-aged African-American man, who shuttles me between the Omni, where I am staying, and the Renaissance, where the Michigan delegation meetings are held, told me he grew up in the “projects” eight blocks from Invesco Field at Mile High, the scene of Thursday night’s acceptance speech by Obama. He said he was hoping to attend the historic speech of the first African-American ever to be nominated to run for president by a major party. You could tell he was proud.

(John C. Hartman is a Central Michigan University journalism professor who is blogging about the Democratic National Convention for the Morning Sun.)
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

After Hillary's speech, Michigan Dems come together for Obama

 
By JOHN K. HARTMAN
Sun Special Correspondent
DENVER -- I failed again Tuesday in my quest to obtain a floor pass so that I could interview delegates and dignitaries firsthand and describe the atmosphere.
I finally found an out-of-the way press office filled with desks and reporters that had a line for temporary floor passes.
Even though Hillary Clinton's speech was about to begin, I got in line and took my chances. When I got to the head of the line, the person in charge told me that I was in the wrong line and give me directions to a locale elsewhere in the Pepsi Center that I had been to four times before, finding no line.
I will keep asking, but the folks stationed throughout the building who are supposed to know the answer to questions, usually don't. They need a toll-free number for us to call.

 
***
 

After the latest rebuff I headed upstairs to Section 372, where my credentials say I am supposed to sit. Bad news. All the seating areas were full and closed. Big turnout for the Hillary Clinton speech.
I exited the building and walked halfway around the Pepsi Center to the familiar white tent known as Pavilion No. 2, where reporters have open work space.
I joined a small crowd gathered around TV monitors in a hospitality area sponsored by Captain Morgan, the rum. It offered free food and drinks.
Many in the crowd were reporters shut out of hall seating like I was. The feed from CSPAN on one TV was slightly out of sync with the feed from CNN so Clinton's speech had an echo. Eerie, to say the least.

 
***
 

Across the way was the LexisNexis booth, where free water was given out earlier. To buttress the research data provider's reputation, a big screen offered LexisNexis Dashboard, a listing of "share of voice, share of coverage" of key political figures: the Obamas, the Clintons, John McCain, and Joe Biden. Barack, Michelle and Hillary had up arrows, Bill was about even and John and Joe were in decline. Another screen showed the top issues as energy and health care.

 
***
 

Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, a Hillary Clinton campaign co-chair turned enthusiastic Obama supporter, kicked off the Michigan delegates' breakfast Wednesday morning. He said the bad things that have happened to the United States under the Bush Administration could have been avoided if Democrats had pulled together and elected Al Gore in 2000. He urged Clinton supporters to join him in the Obama camp, hinting that their failure to do so could lead to more bad times.
Later in an interview, Blanchard told me that he is discouraged by the skyrocketing cost of higher education (CMU's tuition has more than doubled in six years) in Michigan. He said he was proud of his administration's efforts to keep tuition low and hold down increases.

 
***
 

Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon told the delegates that Hillary Clinton's campaign for president showed that the "door is open to every woman" to aspire to the highest office. He said Democrats must come together around Obama because of "our shared sense of values."

 
***
 

AFL-CIO executive Richard Trumka told the delegates that race is being used to divide Democrats. "We must educate voters as to who Obama is and who McCain isn't."

 
***
 

Another prominent Democrat who originally supported another candidate for president but is now on the Obama bandwagon spoke at the press briefing after the breakfast. Former U.S. Rep. David Bonoir was John Edwards’ co-chair until Edwards quit the race. Now he serves as a "whip" for Obama in Michigan. He said Obama is right on the environment, energy, jobs and "the need for the U.S. to open dialogue with other nations."

 
***
 

One of my CMU students wanted to know how social web sites such as Facebook and MySpace have affected the presidential race.
Bonoir said those two sites, along with YouTube, will play big parts in Obama's victory.
"If there is a drop-off in the vote of traditional older Democratic voters, the young will make it up," he suggested.
Elizabeth Kerr, the young press spokeswoman for the Michigan Democratic Party, said, "The Internet is how young people talk to each other about why they should vote for Obama, and other like groups are doing the same talking to one another (about the presidential race), too."

(John C. Hartman is a Central Michigan University journalism professor who is blogging about the Democratic National Convention for the Morning Sun.)
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clintons vs. Obama - what will it cost?

 

 
Delegates hold up signs in support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
 
By JOHN K. HARTMAN
Sun Special Correspondent
DENVER – The convention is still buzzing about the Clintons withholding just enough support to cost Barack Obama the presidency.
I have some questions for Bill Clinton that I will never get to ask unless I run into him in the cavernous halways of the Pepsi Center.
Question No. 1: People gave you the benefit of the doubt when you ran for president. Why won't you do same for Obama?
No. 2: How long did it take you to "get over" your loss for re-election as governor of Arkansas way back when?
No. 3: Would you feel better if you could blame Hillary's loss to Obama on a "right-wing conspiracy?"
No. 4: Do you think Hillary would have gotten as far as she has if her last name were not Clinton and you were not a former president?
No. 5: Do you think the media and sexism (such as prejudice in favor of women) ever helped Hillary?
I guess I'll go roam the hallways at the Pepsi Center for a while.

 
***
 

There are facilities for the working press in Pavilion No. 2 outside the Pepsi Center. It is a big white tent cordoned off inside by dark curtains. The cloth is in constant motion from the fans blowing the cool air around. Denver pushed 90 again today so it took a lot of fans to keep it comfortable.
The floor is plywood and crunches a bit if you hit it wrong. Big news organizations like Business Week and USA Today are housed in the tent, one of at least 5 surrounding the venue.

 
***
 



 
Sen. Barack Obama was in Kansas City, not St. Louis, when he talked to the Democratic convention. But when his daughter asked him where he was, he knew.
 
I got together with former CM Life editor and CMU journalism grad of three years ago, Chad Livengood. He is the political writer for the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader.
He reported that Barack Obama misstated being in St. Louis Monday night instead of the correct city, Kansas City. Livengood posted it on his blog for the newspaper and it was picked up by the very popular conservative news blog, The Drudge Report. That led to thousands of hits on Livengood's blog. News travels at lightning speed in the digital era.
There are still reporters' notebooks in evidence but Blackberrys and digital audio and video recorders are more plentiful. When I started in the newspaper business 40 years ago we used manual typewriters.
LIVENGOOD

 
***
 

A Denver newspaper reported that actor and heartthrob George Clooney is skipping the convention in favor of a film festival in Venice. I guess he can't compete with Obama's so-called celebrity.

(John C. Hartman is a Central Michigan University journalism professor who is blogging about the Democratic National Convention for the Morning Sun.)
 

Dance of the Diesels in Denver

 

 
By JOHN K. HARTMAN
Sun Special Correspondent
Getting in and out of the Pepsi Center might well be called the dance of the diesels as hundreds of buses come and go, letting delegates and other participants off in the afternoon, then picking them up after the festivities.

***

The Al Jazeera cable-satellite news channel, displaying a bright, colorful sign and an Arab point-of-view, has a prime location between CSPAN and ABC News at the convention. This is interesting because few cable and satellite systems carry its telecasts in the United States for fear of being accused of being unpatriotic.
***
 
My press "Hall pass" gets me in the nosebleed section at the Pepsi Center so that I can see the side and back of speakers' heads from afar.
But I can see the teleprompter that the speakers read off of. It includes a reverse time clock that blinks red if they exceed their allotted time.
***
 
The tip-off that Sen. Ted Kennedy was in the house Monday came from running into several Kennedy relatives in the press hallway. Spotted were Joseph Kennedy III, William Kennedy Smith and Maria Shriver, among others.
***
 
While Kennedy's courageous speech while under cancer treatment is to be admired and his efforts to unify the convention around Barack Obama appreciated by Democratic partisans, one cannot forget that in 1980 he ran unsuccessfully for the nomination against incumbent President Jimmy Carter and offered only an "arm's length" embrace of Carter, who subsequently lost, not unlike the shyness that former President Bill Clinton continues to exhibit regarding Obama, who appears to have defeated Hillary Clinton for the nomination.
***
 
The warning clock was turned off when Kennedy spoke.
***
 
At Tuesday morning's breakfast of the Michigan delegates, Gov. Jennifer Granholm referred to GOP standard-bearer John McCain as the "outsorcerer," a play on words to suggest McCain is too cozy with firms that send U.S. jobs overseas.

***
 
Granholm referred to the "5 W's" that will help lead Michigan's economic comeback: "Wind, Water, Workforce, Wood and Waste (converging the latter to energy)."

***

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer got the delegates really fired up with his folk hero approach, colorful language and Western attire of blue blazer, blue jeans and bolo tie.

***

I got to ask another of my journalism students' questions at the press briefing after the delegates' breakfast. A student from Rochester wanted to know how Democrats were going to get Obama and the Clintons to bury the hatchet.
State Sen. Gilda Jacobs of Huntington Woods said that a unity meeting had been held Monday between the competing factions that went well.
"Women will progress only under Obama," she added.
"Don't believe the hype,” added Edna Bell, a delegate from Detroit. “Women not just in the United States but around she world need Obama."
Nan Welke, a delegate from Westland, said, "Women cannot afford more years of Bush and McCain."
(John K. Hartman is a Central Michigan University journalism professor, offering his take on the Democratic National Convention in Denver.)
 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nuggets from Denver

 
By John K. Hartman
Morning Sun Special Correspondent

DENVER -- I arrived in Sunday afternoon intending to get to the root of
the Democratic National Convention. I did not expect to be dealing with
another root, but after having a sore tooth for 48 hours, my dentist
informed me by phone Saturday morning that the root in one of my lower
molars was going bad. There was no time to begin work on it, so he
prescribed a powerful antibiotic and some pain pills. He will get to the
diseased root and remove it the day after Labor Day.
I am here to provide some "nuggets" (apologies to the NBA team
headquartered here and to gold miners everythere) of information and
commentary to readers of the print and online Morning Sun. My reporting
will be supplementing the coverage provided by the Associated Press, not
replacing it. I will emphasize the local angles of interest to folks in
the Sun's coverage area.
***
I am a professor of journalism at Central Michigan University, trying to
practice what I preach. I will be holding my classes online Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday ... if the wireless laptop computer I borrowed is
up to the challenge. I have asked my students to give me questions they
would like asked of convention delegates and dignitaries. They get bonus
points if it works out.
One student wants me to ask Gov. Jennifer Granholm her stance on an
alleged proposal by the Bush Administration to declare the use of birth
control pills as abortion. Another wants to know from Sen. Barack Obama
what Sen. Hillary Clinton will have to say in her speech Wednesday night
to win her supporters over to his bid for the presidency. A third
student wants to know when the American public is going to become more
important than foreign countries. And a fourth wants U.S. Rep. John
Conyers to tell him how to advance the Democratic Party's fortunes in
Detroit.
Sun readers are invited to email me their questions at
hartm1jk@cmich.edu
***
Visitors arriving at Denver International Airport such as I were whisked
into motorized carts for their trip from the landing gate to the baggage
area by friendly folks wearing carnation lapel pins. They took our names
and promised good seats on our return flights.
At the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, security around the
headquarters Denver Sheraton Hotel was tight with dozens of police clad
in black riot gear in sight.
The Michigan delegation is staying 20 minutes away from the Pepsi Center
in the Renaissance and Omni hotels in Broomfield. I will attend their
breakfast meetings Monday through Thursday.
Job No. 1 will be helping the presumed nominee for president, Sen.
Obama, win Michigan. A Detroit Free Press poll Sunday gave Obama a
7-point lead over presumed Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, but
two-thirds of the voters said they were "not sure" about Obama.
Jobs No. 1, 2 and 3 for Obama are winning over Sen. Clinton's diehard
supporters, helping unsure folks to feel comfortable with him, and
overcoming the reluctance of some voters to support an African-American
for president.
I will keep you posted. Let me hear from you.
***
By way of disclosure, my wife Kay and I were delegates from Ohio to the
2004 Democratic National Convention, pledged to Sen. John Edwards. He
won't be speaking at the 2008 convention after his recent personal
scandal. I wish his wife Elizabeth Edwards would be here and speaking.
Now there is someone to admire.
 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Excitement at Stadium Mall

 

John K. Hartman is a professor of journalism at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.  He is the author of two books, "The USA Today Way 2: The Future" (2000) and "The USA Today Way" (1992).  He has examined much of the research done on young adult newspaper readership and is a widely quoted source on the topic.  Jacqueline Hartman provided editing assistance to the author.

In August 2008 Dr. Hartman covered and blogged the Democratic National Convention for the Mount Pleasant, Mich., Morning Sun. In 2008 Dr. Hartman was named the Al-Jazirah Newspaper Chair for International Journalism at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and visited the kingdom to lecture, teach and give seminars. He is scheduled to return in 2009. To learn more about King Saud University, visit jrc.ksu.edu.sa/en

Copyright © 2009, John K. Hartman.  All Rights Reserved.
John.Hartman@dacor.net