Local Reporters Rebel Against DNCC OTR Mandate

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DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan Addresses Media In Charlotte

Tonya Jameson

What started as a fodder for Charlotte Observer’s Mark Washburn’s column is fast becoming a full-blown media story about the DNC Convention.

Here’s the deal. On Wednesday, at least 500 local and national journalists participated in a media logistics tour of the DNC Convention facilities: Time Warner Cable Arena, the convention center and Bank of America stadium.

Participating media were warned via email that the tour was strictly off-the-record. During the introduction, DNC officials warned us again. Observer columnist Mark Washburn stood up and questioned the O-T-R mandate.

Theodore LeCompte, chief operating officer for the convention committee, told Washburn, “If there are issues with the ground rules, you are perfectly welcome not to attend this session.”

That seemed to be the end of the discussion, but it wasn’t.

Today, Creative Loafing’s Desiree Kane wrote an article questioning whether Washburn and other local media violated the policy by tweeting updates throughout the tour. Loafing editor Mark Kemp and several of my former Observer colleague’s disagree with the O-T-R mandate.

Apparently, these tours are typically off-the record. In the audience several of the national media folks grumbled when Washburn asked the question saying, “Is he for real?” Yes, he was. Washburn did what all of the participants should’ve done – challenge the gatekeepers. It’s our nature as journalists to question these types of mandates. Ironically, the logistics tour wasn’t anything that the general public would really care about, but the O-T-R rule upped the ante.

Read Washburn’s hilarious column.

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