Thursday, September 24, 2009

Inside the Convention Center for Day One of the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit - Getting Off to a Slow Start

Here's a running account of today's activities inside (and outside) the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on the first day of the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit.

5 p.m. - Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says during a White House G-20 briefing that since economic and environmental challenges know no borders, then solutions must be found through global cooperation. His message reflected President Obama's strong statements about the importance of global cooperation.

"The challenges we face today of course are not confined to our borders - they don't respect national borders," Geithner said. "And nor can the solution come from individual countries acting on their own. Financial risk and leverage is going to flow to where the rules are most lax, but the consequences of failure will be felt globally.

"To achieve a more stable financial system, we need strong reforms here in this country, but in other countries around the world. If we want more rapid growth here and lower unemployment, we need more rapid growth outside the United States. For American companies to be able to be export -- other countries to buy our exports, when our country exports more goods, employment will rise here. We're in this together. And that's why cooperation in the G-20 is so important to the interest of Americans."

Big screens around the international press center continue to show live feeds of visiting dignitaries descending the steps of their official jets and also local news footage of protesters engulfed in tear gas. Yup, it's the G-20.

3:30 p.m. - We're getting word simultaneously (via Twitter) that President Obama has just landed on Air Force One at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport, and that protesters marching from Lawrenceville without a permit are being sprayed with tear gas while they turn over dumpsters. This is inside the international media center, where reporters are still watching Bloomberg TV on the big screen.

3 p.m. - The international press corps continues to roll in to the Convention Center, and now far outnumber the locals, but still no sign of the dignitaries. We were told that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the Japanese finance minister were doing photo opps in the house earlier, but only for a selection of pool photographers.

Speaking of media pools, special credentials are required for just about everything - tonight's working dinner at Phipps Conservatory and the group photo of world leaders, all plenary sessions, tomorrow's events for spouses at the Warhol Museum and CAPA, and tomorrow night's gathering at Teresa Heinz Kerry's estate. The good news is that no additional credentials are required for President Obama's press conference scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

The international media center has no windows, so the second level is where many of us have congregated. While there is no internet access, there is a nice view, and many seemed to be enjoying a bit to eat from the swanky (and expensive) concession stand.

11:15 a.m. - Not much of a crowd yet inside the Convention Center. Mayor Ravenstahl gets interviewed by foreign TV station (left). Media center just getting warmed up.

11 a.m. - After clearing media security at Mellon Arena, arrived at the Convention Center with a bus half-full of media types. Judging by overheard accents and conversations, about two-thirds of those on my bus were local, including KDKA's Jon Delano and several camera crews. The driver was not local, and needed directions from the on-board security officer to reach our destination.

Media screening included walking through an airport-like metal detector where the security team joked about keeping my lunch. I was surprised when they allowed me to keep my ham sandwich and two cans of Diet Dr. Pepper.

Unlike a trip through airport security, my backpack was set in a line with everyone else's gear and meticulously searched, item-by-item, by a security officer. It was then set back on the ground and sniffed by a dog that had been sleeping quietly nearby. All very efficient and very professional. Friendly, even. This is not the TSA.

These and other photos can be viewed at the GlobalPittsburgh Flickr page at

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that two-thirds of the media were local. Let us know when you see the 2,000-3,000 foreign ones that we are expecting.