Category Zero Convention

ST. PAUL—This is a strange convention.

Everyone here has to scramble to cover a convention that just barely seems to be happening, while a hurricane overtakes the gulf coast. Here’s the giant television screen that greets you as you enter the perimeter, circa 9 a.m. Central time. In the general filing center, a small arena adjacent to the main convention floor at the next-door Xcel Energy Center, there are five large television screens displaying the 24-hour cable news; all of them are doing Hurricane Gustav coverage, and there’s the ambient noise of television-anchor panic pervading the room.

By the way, the general filing center, the room where you can go plug in your computer if your news organization did not rate its own space in the media center, is practically empty, and much larger than it was in Denver.

Later today a giant protest is expected. But it’s not clear who is here at the actual convention center to hear the chants, or, from the way things look, that the protest will even rate transmission into TV land with a full day of Gustav coverage ahead.