MADELEINE BRAND, host:
If Joe Biden did stroll up and down Michigan, he'd have no problems getting back in. At the Republican Convention in St. Paul, young reporters aren't that lucky. The invite list for the press booth's skybox seats, it's adults only. As part of our series What's the New What?, Youth Radio's Ankitha Bharadwaj says she and her peers feel left out.
ANKITHA BHARADWAJ: What's the New What? I'm starting to think political conventions are the new nightclubs, and those unsightly metal detectors outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul are like the velvet ropes that keep the riff-raff outside the hippest spots in town.
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Unidentified Security Officer: You need to go to - through the megtrometers (ph), scan your credential, OK?
BHARADWAJ: I know some kids who'd rather blog about VP nominee Sarah Palin than kick it at the club. Like 17-year-old political junkie Kelly Chau, who felt like she'd been invited to P. Diddy's exclusive annual bash when she got the assignment to cover the RNC in St. Paul.
KELLY CHAU: This is a once in a lifetime thing and not everybody gets to experience it. And you know, by coming to this thing, you get to witness history in the making.
BHARADWAJ: Kelly could hardly wait to tote around her omnidirectional mic and talk politics with the media elite. While most of us are pining for Orlando Bloom, Kelly's crush is...
(Soundbite of TV show "Scarborough County," January 4, 2007)
Former Representative JOE SCARBOROUGH (Republican, Florida; Host, "Morning Joe"): That doesn't make me liberal. That makes me conservative! That may make you, though, a suck-up, if you defend...
BHARADWAJ: That's right, conservative commentator Joe Scarborough, who in Kelly's eyes is...
CHAU: Drop dead gorgeous, with a cute baby-face.
BHARADWAJ: So, you can imagine Kelly's heartbreak when she found out she wasn't eligible for a press credential at the Republicans' convention. You have to be at least 18 to get one of those bad boys. With mine in hand, I decided to dig around the Xcel Center to get a better understanding of the RNC's credentialing policy. Finally, I found the spokesperson for specialty media, who was supposed to have the answer. I asked Yohana De La Torre why journalists have to be 18 to cover the convention.
Ms. YOHANA DE LA TORRE (Deputy Press Secretary, Specialty Media, 2008 Republican National Convention): Along with Senator John McCain, the Republican Party values what the youth has to do and what they have to say for the American people and for this nation. And like Senator John McCain said, we are taking off our Republican hats and we're putting on our American hats, and we're showing this nation that we care for them...
BHARADWAJ: W-w-wait a minute. I'm glad you're such a fan of our nation's youth, but why don't you invite them inside the velvet rope? I ended up getting more concrete information from a youth media organization called Y-Press in Indianapolis. They told me they didn't get a single credential for the RNC, because all their reporters are underage. Fifteen-year-old Y-Press reporter, Tommaso Verderame, says they'd spent more than a year, and lots of money, preparing for their convention coverage.
Mr. TOMMASO VERDERAME (Reporter, Y-Press): And in July we heard back. We were denied for the first time. They claim that they've never given credentials to anyone under 18, but that's entirely untrue, because Y-Press has gone to every Republican and Democrat convention since 1992.
BHARADWAJ: So, Tommaso and his fellow Y-Pressers have been covering this convention from outside the barricades, like the juveniles who can't get past those beefy bouncers at the club. I'm sure some intrepid young reporters are finding their own ways in to get the scoop, and to me, that's a lot better than faking IDs to get a drink.
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BRAND: Ankitha Bharadwaj's reporting from the RNC. What's the New What? is Youth Radio's and Day to Day's weekly series expressing the interests of America's youth. And by the way, we're not hanging with P. Diddy either. We're posting on our blog. And you can, too, npr.org/daydreaming. There's a lot there on the convention, a lot there on Sarah Palin. People have a lot to say about her. Go there, npr.org/daydreaming.
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ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Day to Day is a production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Alex Chadwick.
BRAND: And I'm Madeleine Brand.