In touch with the news through Twitter

Yesterday, I had the privilege of moderating a political panel of journalism heavyweights — David Gergen, Charlie Cook, Taylor Batten, Domenico Montanaro, Anita Kumar and Rob Christensen — as part of the Elon University Poll’s latest polling results. (But enough about them. I’m the guy standing at the podium on the far left.)

It was going well with a lot of give and take among the panelists, I thought. I looked over the audience preparing to open it for questions and almost panicked. So many people were looking down at their smart phones and texting! Had I lost them? That couldn’t be right; the panel was saying smart, headline-grabbing quotes. Then I realized that the crowd was live tweeting the event. Rick Thames, editor of The Charlotte Observer, which hosted the event with Elon University, announced the appropriate hashtag — #ElonPoll — before the panel started. That, in itself, was pretty cool.

It also made me realize what people who aren’t on Twitter or who “don’t get” Twitter are missing.

Update: In the comments, Phil Meyer correct points out a potential danger with live-tweeting when using “the classic bait-and-switch rhetorical device.” Of course, that’s not a problem limited to Twitter.

Update 2:

Elon University and the DNC

In all of my years in journalism, I’ve never wanted to cover a political convention. This, despite my intense interest in politics. They’ve just seemed so scripted and boring. The parties know what message they want to get out and, best I can tell, the journalists get it out for them.

On the other hand, next month at the DNC in Charlotte, I’m going to moderate a panel of political journalists and analysts talking about the results of the Elon University Poll and presidential politics in general. It’s a good lineup, too: Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, Domenico Montanaro of NBC News, Rob Christensen of the N&O, Taylor Branch of the Charlotte Observer and Anita Kumar of McClatchy Newspapers White House team. (I’ve worked with both Rob and Anita in another life…they’re worth the price of admission alone. The admission price, by the way, is free.)

If you’re not doing anything on Labor Day morning, please join us at the Charlotte Observer. It’s going to be better than the convention itself.

Democrats invite 500 media folks, but it’s off the record

A day after the Democratic National Convention Committee reiterated that Charlotte’s gathering would be “the most open and accessible in history,” 500 media representatives were given a tour Wednesday of their September digs.

One of the first orders of business: cone of silence.

Mark Washburn of The Charlotte Observer nails the Democrats for their controlling arrogance in a media walk-through. You’re going to keep hundreds of the media off-the-record? It’s not even as if what they’re briefing the media on is actually that important. I mean, how could the apparatchik think that everyone was going to accept such a thing? The press is not a pussycat; it won’t stand for this blanket off-the-record stuff. Crazy, right? Well….

“A total non-issue,” said Greg Kohler of Charlotte-based NBC News Channel, who has been managing convention setups since 2000. Kohler was more interested in the good news of the day – spots in the arena for his reporters to do stand-ups were going for $1,200 to $1,800, rather than the $10,000 they cost in Denver and at other conventions.

Larry Rubenstein, who runs the logistics for Reuters news service, was focusing on the money, too. In Charlotte, the media can rent chairs at the arena for only $49, a third less than what they were paying in Denver four years ago.

He said off-the-record conversations are common during media orientation, and he thought even the Republicans had some such moments in December. “Accepted practice,” he said. Competitive reasons.

Now, we’re not pussycats. For another take, Rob Christensen of the N&O also got a more traditional story out of the gathering. No mention of the off-the-record status of the meeting.