Jeramey Jannene

500 Media Members Get DNC Preview

Officials host national media for first look at city and convention venues.

By - Jan 7th, 2020 04:13 pm
Fiserv Forum during the DNC Winter Media Walkthrough. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Fiserv Forum during the DNC Winter Media Walkthrough. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Approximately 500 members of the media from across the country gathered in Milwaukee this week to get a preview of what the July 2020 Democratic National Convention will offer and learn more about the Cream City.

The “DNC Winter Media Walkthrough” included everything from Fiserv Forum tours and cream puffs to Secret Service briefings and discussions regarding hotel and transportation logistics.

A welcome reception was held Monday night at Discovery World. Guests were treated to speeches from host committee co-chairs Mayor Tom Barrett and Congresswoman Gwen Moore as well as host committee executive director Liz Gilbert and VISIT Milwaukee director of communications Kristin Settle. They also were free to enjoy food and drinks from Bartolotta Catering that included Old Fashioned cocktails, a “Wisconsin fish fry”, a cheese table, butter burger sliders and Purple Door ice cream. A gift bag was handed out as guests left with Saz’s barbecue sauce, a Milwaukee winter hat, Goody’s Gourmet popcorn, an Indulgence Chocolatiers chocolate bar and more. Barrett had only one request for when they come back in July: “I want you to spend all your money before you leave the city.”

Convention CEO Joe Solmonese opened the formal part of the program Tuesday with a brief panel discussion with Governor Tony Evers, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.

“There is a pretty clear narrative about the importance of Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” said Solmonese about the symbolism of picking Milwaukee for the convention. The party veteran, who acknowledged the Democrats’ failure to engage Wisconsin and other Midwestern states in the 2016 election, told the media members that the convention was about more than symbolism, though. “The convention we are building is less about spectacle and more about substance.”

Evers, speaking on the one year anniversary of his inauguration, said he expects Wisconsin to play an important role in the election beyond just the convention. “I truly believe at the end of the day, Wisconsin will be the state that elects a new President,” said Evers. He said the state will also play an important role in the primary, predicting that many candidates will still be in the race by the time of the Wisconsin’s April primary.

Barnes and Godlewski spoke about the importance of Democrats listening and not overlooking Wisconsin. “For far too long people have been ignored, and that’s why the election went the way it did largely,” said Barnes of Trump‘s 2016 victory.

The politicians weren’t speaking to Wolf Blitzer and David Muir, but instead producers and executives from a variety of national outlets as well as a host of local media members.

After the on-the-record panel discussion, an off-the-record discussion of the nuts and bolts of the convention took place. Members of the media were able to tour Fiserv Forum to look at different camera locations and rentable spaces before heading over to the Wisconsin Center for breakout sessions on everything from convention security to an overview of the city from Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux.

But before they could get to the convention center, attendees were offered fliers from representatives of the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH). The protest served as a preview of how advocacy groups could use the high-profile convention to make their case outside the still-undisclosed security perimeter. The independent union is pushing for a contract with Fiserv Forum, but has yet to reach an agreement. The Milwaukee Bucks in 2016 pledged to pay all arena employees a minimum of $15 an hour by 2023.

After attending sessions at the convention center, which will serve in large part as media headquarters during the week-long event, guests ended the day with bus tours of the city, which ranged in focus from neighborhoods to spots for B-roll footage.

Media members who didn’t find that perfect spot for a standup shot or sort out the logistics of how to pack as many journalists as possible into a temporary office in the Wisconsin Center convention hall will have one more chance. A spring walkthrough is planned.

Mark your calendars for July 13th. The convention is only 187 days away.

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