Meeting some of the journalists who are in Tampa this week for the RNC

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

This week, there are about 15,000 journalists in Tampa covering the Republican National Convention. They’ll be covering the political speeches, talking with protesters, taking us behind the scenes, and finding out which politicians are attending local strip clubs. (There are a lot of them here in Tampa Bay.)

Catching up with Howard Fineman, editorial director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group.

While it’s important for journalists to cover the conventions, I wonder whether we need so many there. Jeff Jarvis wrote a good piece estimating that the news media will spend about $60 million sending journalists to both conventions this year. Just think about how else that money could be spent in newsrooms, which have significantly reduced their staff throughout the past few years.

I don’t like to think about how much money the media business is spending on the conventions. But, admittedly, I still get excited thinking about how many media professionals are in the Tampa Bay Area this week. As a media news reporter, I can’t help but want to be where the action is and meet some of the journalists I cover.

On Monday, I attended a Politico-sponsored breakfast where Karl Rove was the guest speaker. The following day, I covered a Poynter-sponsored luncheon, which featured a talk with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, co-hosts of “Morning Joe.” They had some really interesting thoughts to share on how the news media lost the public’s trust and how they can regain it. (You can read my coverage of their talk here.)

Me and Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

At the luncheon, I caught up with Howard Fineman from The Huffington Post. I first met him when he spoke at Providence College, my alma mater, and have kept in touch with him throughout the years. He introduced me to Arianna Huffington, who I’ve interviewed but hadn’t met in person.

Maybe it’s a little unprofessional for me to be taking photos with high-profile journalists, but it’s something I’ve always done. I like being able to go through old photos and see who I’ve met, and where my job has taken me.

I passed on the invitation to last night’s “Rock the Vote” dance party with DJ Steve Aoki in Ybor City. (I feel old saying this, but I didn’t want to drive all the way to Ybor at night and try to find parking just to go to a dance party where I wouldn’t know anyone!)

Tomorrow, I hope to hang out at the CNN Grill and talk with the journalists there about how they use, what they like about the site and what they think needs work. My editor and I figured that since there are so many journalists in the area this week, we might as well take advantage of the opportunity and see what we can learn.

It’s a good week to be a media news reporter in Tampa Bay.