For the last three years, ever since Robert Stacy McCain insisted I MUST go to CPAC after we covered the 1st Scott Brown race I have been going to CPAC as a credentialed blogger with Fedoras and Cannoli in hand to interview movers, shakes and the people who help back them. As CPAC 2013 gets closer I’ve applied for my credentials and have been confirmed for them. (Although I’ve yet to order the Cannoli)
There are an awful lot of great reasons to attend CPAC:
Access: The number of high level conservatives can’t be underestimated, as a credentialed blogger you have a considerable amount of access to said people all in a single place.
Networking: With a large amount of our fellow bloggers in attendance, it is possible to network with people you have only communicated with over the net.
News: Occasionally news breaks out at CPAC as it did last year with the confrontations with the Occupods and Andrew Breitbart’s willingness to confront them (it’s so odd to think of CPAC without him)
First Hand Reports: First hand reports are always better than 2nd hand reports as anyone can tell you. It’s also amazing what you notice that someone might not, or what someone else might notice and mention to you.
Readers: One of the best things about CPAC is meeting YOU, the reader who has made this blog what it is and the tip jar hitters who make things possible.
The Fedora Exchange: This one is personal, I have fedoras loaned out to activists, when I see them I regain them and load them out to other activists.
This doesn’t even count the pleasures of seeing the friends I have made in blogging.
I tend to be very active at CPAC, I have been kindly called one of the “hardest working bloggers at CPAC.” It’s true that I tend to spend a lot of time on stories and less time in parties but there are several good reasons for this.
This is my job: I am trying to make a living as a freelance blogger and radio host, if I hope to do so then I have to produce content for my readership that is a sufficient incentive for them to kick in the $300 weekly for me to draw a pay.
DaWife: My wife has worked very hard to keep things above water while I try this career. It has not been easy on her. That being the case it is incumbent for me to put the maximum effort in at CPAC. If the family can’t afford a vacation I’m certainly not going to turn CPAC into one. Given the expense CPAC entails it would be obscene for me to basically spend three days partying with friends while she has to work.
Volume: I shoot a ridiculous amount of video in interviews at CPAC, the sheer volume of data requires me to be constantly writing and uploading to keep up with it.
Obligation: I’ve always told my advertisers and tip jar hitter that when I take their money it means I work for them. Let it never be said that I didn’t fulfill my obligations to the reader.
Rules of Sicilian living: I like a party as much as the next man but I have a vivid memory of a CPAC where a female reporter imbibed to excess and made a complete fool of herself in front of my face for several hours. Decorum and the rules of gentlemanly behavior forbade my writing on the subject or naming the person in question but it would appear to me alcohol in quantity mixed with people who write for a living carrying a near infinite amount of recording devices is a combination to be avoided.
I’m cheap: CPAC is an expense for me. So the more material I produce the better value it is for the money.
So for me CPAC is a job, an enjoyable part of a job but a job that carries expense nevertheless.
This year however CPAC has made several changes that have proven to be a distinct disincentive to attending:
Moving: As Glenn Reynolds predicted last year a larger venue was certainly needed but the new hotel is not only very expensive but it not accessible by the Metro meaning cab travel and additional expense..
Credentialing: CPAC has decided to issue a single media credential for bloggers and the MSM. While I’m sure this annoys the liberal media and was meant to elevate bloggers this has a distinct disadvantage in the sense that the CPAC attendee could generally tell friend (CPAC blogger generally conservative) from foe (MSM journalist generally out to get you) and would act accordingly. If we are all the media then CPAC attendees will sensibly treat us all as “enemy”.
Single media area: Again while it must annoy the MSM to no end to be on equal footing with “just bloggers”, this actually works against bloggers in several ways. Speakers went to the blogger lounge to speak to give access to people who would give them a fair shake. We were a sought after commodity It will be very easy for bloggers to be crowded out in the scrum and our own area made us special. The ejection of Maureen Dowd from the CPAC bloggers lounge remains to me one of the greatest moments in CPAC history.
No free Wi-fi: Seriously? There is no wifi being provided for bloggers (I suspect this is related to #2 & 3) and it’s my understanding that purchased access is $250. For people who can afford expensive phones and data plans or who do this on a lark that’s a drop in the bucket. For the MSM it’s part of an expense account. For the blogger like me who uses a trac phone, buy his time in units of a couple of hundred minutes it’s a different story. Considering the number of people already reporting from CPAC the case for readers kicking in $1000 to get me there and back (Nearby Hotel + Air $821 Baggage fees $50, Cabs $40 and if I’m careful Meals $75) while still looking for that $300 weekly paycheck is iffy enough. To ask them to pay an additional $250 simply so I can do my job while I’m there, that’s just unreasonable. It also means I’ll have to go to my hotel to do my posting.
CPAC has always been about energizing conservative and to some degree the alternate conservative media. Given bloggers always had better access than the MSM in the past and our shoestring I would think the wise thing to do would be to enhance these advantages rather than cancel them.
Anyways I can’t see me skipping CPAC. There is just too much news to get there and of course it’s an excellent chance to promote the radio show and hopefully pick up some sponsors and perhaps maybe even some new stations along the way, but I’ve got to tell you, these changes seem a real disincentive to attendance.
Of course that just might the Sicilian in me coming out.
Update: Forgot a HUGE pro, How could I neglect mentioning Mass at the Shrine of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. A place so holy you can actually feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. (and the best breakfast in Washington in the cafeteria) Unfortunately the new location is 12 miles away making cab fare nearly $40 one way so that’s out So I guess it’s St. Columbia Church at Oxen Hill, Under $15 for cab far with tip. Certainly not as spectacular as the National Shine but the containing no less the real presence of Christ in the Mass and the Eucharist.
Incidentally if you are a Catholic going to CPAC for the first time and can afford it GO TO THE BASILICA FOR MASS. Any Catholic needs to experience it at least once. In fact it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a group together to go to mass at the national Basilica (or at St Columbia) on Sunday.
Update 2: The comment of the year so far…
It is proof of a merciful God that MY youthful indiscretions all took place before the proliferation of camera phones and YouTube.
A million middle aged bloggers are nodding their heads.
[thermometer raised=0 target=300 height =200 ]
Well it’s a new week which means once again it’s time to seek that $300 paycheck to keep things going.
Week one and Two in February were very encouraging. If we can keep this up for week three then the wife will really be impressed.
The math is really simple 15 x 20 15 People hitting datipjar for $20 pays me for the week.
Of course if there are 10 more of you who can hit DaTipJar for $100 then I can buy my CPAC tickets and hotel but for now I think I’ll worry about the paycheck and the mortgage, first things first.