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D.C. Reporters Planning Bureau 'Sleepovers' for Inaugural

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

D.C. Reporters Planning Bureau 'Sleepovers' for Inaugural

Article excerpt

With the strictest security ever for a presidential inauguration, the largest one-day crowd of visitors likely in Washington history, and 24-hour Internet coverage leading the way, numerous D.C. reporters are planning to camp out in their offices the night before Barack Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20.

"I am 57 years old and this is my first slumber party," said Jack Torry of the Columbus Dispatch, who said at least a dozen others in the Cox Bureau, where he leases space, are planning to stay. "We've got popcorn, sleeping bags and people will be bringing beer Monday night. It will be a real slumber party."

Editors and reporters at some bureaus say the unusual act of closing all bridges into town on Tuesday and emptying parking garages for blocks around the parade route the night before has made it more practical to spend the night in the bureau.

"Some people are planning to overnight in their offices," said John Walcott, McClatchy D.C. bureau chief, who adds that at least 60 out-of-town McClatchy staffers will come into cover the events. "People are coming from around the country and some are shipping sleeping bags....

"I have never seen this kind of security," said Walcott, who has worked in Washington since 1975. "It is a combination of 9/11 and the number of people."

The key element is the shutdown of bridges from Virginia and some parts of the southeast border. Walcott adds that the parking garage for his building is one of many that will be closed starting Monday.

Concerns about the impact on cell phone connections has even prompted Walcott to bring in six satellite phones from foreign bureaus just in case communications get jammed. "It is possible," he said.

At the Tribune bureau, which houses staffers for all Tribune papers, including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, a group of staffers is already staking out space for air mattresses. …

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