CHARLOTTE – In about nine months, 50,000 guests will arrive in Charlotte for the 2020 Republican National Convention. Media outlets will make up roughly one-third of those guests.
To prepare media for the event, which will take place from Aug. 24 to 27, the Committee on Arrangements and officials from the media operations department for the RNC recently held a fall media walk-through for news outlets to get an inside look at the ins and outs of the convention. The walk-through ended with a reception hosted by the Charlotte 2020 Host Committee for members of the media to network while enjoying an evening in Charlotte.
More than 400 reporters, anchors, producers, photographers and editors attended the event to plan their coverage strategies for August. Self-guided tours of the Spectrum Center and the Charlotte Convention Center, two primary locations of the convention, provided opportunities to see where light comes in, where platforms for photography will be, where print reporters will watch the convention from and where work stations will be. Shuttles will transport media to locations throughout the convention.
City officials said they were excited for Charlotte to be broadcast to an international audience.
“You’re going to play a role in making sure Charlotte can be known across the international arena,” Mayor Vi Lyles said to the media at Spectrum Center. “Because of your hard work, the preview stories that you’re going to do, the feature stories you’re going to do and the covering of the event itself, you’re going to make Charlotte accessible and more well-known.”
Charlotte 2020 Host Committee CEO John Lassiter said the committee hopes the plan and execution of the RNC will showcase Charlotte as a prime location for business development as well as hospitality and tourism.
According to 2020 RNC President and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly, her team has met with 35 news outlets across the nation and has taken their feedback from previous conventions to ensure a smoother experience for media at the “made-for-TV media event.”
“Media, you are important to us,” Kelly told the media in the audience. “We’re going to listen to you. We’re going to care about you.”
One new feature of the convention is a 10-foot raised floor at Spectrum Center, which officials say will allow more room for delegates on the floor. While some reporters were concerned about accessibility to see the convention from the upper concourse of the arena, media operations officials said the raised floor will allow more opportunities to see what is happening below.
Ed Driggs, who represents the Ballantyne area on the Charlotte City Council, said he is most excited for the “incidental coverage” of Charlotte.
“When you see a lot of the coverage of Uptown and the trees and the walkability and stuff like that, it’s a very appealing place,” Driggs said. “And when people see the coverage and they see all of the incidental coverage that goes with the convention, they’ll know more about Charlotte and maybe they’ll want to come.”
Driggs also said that while the council does not have a large role in planning security measures for the convention, measures are being taken on a larger scale. He said the N.C. Highway Patrol, Secret Service and National Guard are all working with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to ensure the safety of both Charlotte residents and visitors throughout the convention. CMPD will also have a $50 million budget to bring in additional resources for that week, which Driggs said made him feel very secure about the preparations.
As one of two Republicans on the council, Driggs said he thinks hosting the RNC is a great opportunity for the city.
“I think as it gets closer to the day, people will start to appreciate what it was that made us decide that we wanted to do this,” Driggs said. “Obviously, there’s been some controversy about it, but as you see it unfold, I think you’ll realize this is big for Charlotte.”