For­eign jour­nal­ists of­fer unique take on con­ven­tions

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By CHEN WEIHUA in Philadel­phia chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

For Yi­fan Xu, the Washington cor­re­spon­dent for The China Press, cov­er­ing the 2016 Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic na­tional con­ven­tions has of­fered her in­sight into both par­ties.

She said the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion in Cleve­land, Ohio, was much bet­ter or­ga­nized – the shut­tles were more con­ve­nient, the press cen­ter bet­ter equipped and the screens in the arena also more vis­i­ble.

At the DNC (July 25-28) in Philadel­phia, jour­nal­ists sit­ting in the gen­eral press area are look­ing at the back of speak­ers.

But Xu said that the RNC had no other ac­tiv­i­ties for the press be­sides daily brief­ings, while the DNC has many cau­cus events, con­ve­nient for jour­nal­ists to set up and do in­ter­views.

The re­porter for the Los An­ge­les­based pub­li­ca­tion noted an in­ter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non — that the DNC seems more con­trolled, with staff hand­ing out plac­ards but not al­low­ing peo­ple to bring their own, which was per­mit­ted at the RNC.

“I saw a San­ders sup­porter get an­gry with this and change the slo­gan ‘Stronger To­gether’ from the or­ga­nizer into ‘Stop Her’,” she said.

Xu also in­ter­viewed pro­test­ers on the streets. She be­lieves that both par­ties are di­vided, es­pe­cially the sup­port­ers of Ver­mont Se­na­tor Bernie San­ders on the Demo­cratic side and Texas Se­na­tor Ted Cruz on the Repub­li­can side.

Xu, a Chi­nese cit­i­zen, said she is more in­clined to­ward Repub­li­can can­di­date Don­ald Trump and was un­com­fort­able about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s trust­wor­thi­ness.

Sev­eral opin­ion polls in the US show that about two thirds of Amer­i­cans be­lieve Clin­ton is dis­hon­est.

“I am not an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, so I am ba­si­cally just watch­ing,” said Xu, who has been work­ing 16 hours a day cov­er­ing the con­ven­tions.

Danielle Ziri, a TV cam­era­man with Is­rael’s 124 News, also praised the RNC for bet­ter or­ga­ni­za­tion and easy ac­cess for jour­nal­ists.

But she said the lineup of speak­ers at the DNC is bet­ter and more in­ter­est­ing.

Ziri was ex­pect­ing a lot more chaos at the RNC with pro­test­ers but found that not to be the case. “Ac­tion is re­ally at the DNC,” she said, re­fer­ring to the tens of thou­sands of pro­test­ers de­scend­ing on Philadel­phia this week.

“We ac­tu­ally spoke to lot of the pro­test­ers. They were an­gry — Bernie vot­ers who felt they have been let down,” she said.

Ziri, who has been work­ing 18-hour days this week, said that the San­ders sup­port­ers were mostly an­gry af­ter Wik­iLeaks posted emails from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee “show­ing they are clearly in fa­vor of Clin­ton from the very be­gin­ning”.

“For them (the San­ders sup­port­ers), that was very dis­turb­ing,” she said.

She de­scribed both con­ven­tions as “very in­ter­est­ing, the big­gest mo­ment for me as a jour­nal­ist”.

Silv­ina Sterin Pensel, a cor­re­spon­dent for Ar­gentina’s Todo Noti­cias, was amazed that the two par­ties have turned the con­ven­tions into “a Broad­way show”.

“I en­joyed very much look­ing at the cos­tumes both on the Repub­li­cans and now the Democrats,” she said, ad­ding that only Amer­i­cans can make bor­ing and se­ri­ous pol­i­tics into “a spec­ta­cle, kind of a cir­cus”.

Pensel said she en­joyed lis­ten­ing to “emo­tional” speeches by first lady Michelle Obama and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and see­ing and lis­ten­ing to Trump’s fam­ily mem­bers.

She also spent time on the streets with pro­test­ers but said it was peace­ful.

For Pensel, an Ar­gen­tinian who has be­come an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, it will be the first time she is el­i­gi­ble to vote in a US pres­i­den­tial election.

CHEN WEIHUA / CHINA DAILY

Jour­nal­ists cover the 2016 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia’s Wells Fargo Cen­ter on Thurs­day.

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