Logistics of a presidential visit
By By William F. West / Community editor
Aug. 8, 2002
MADISON Teams of press officials and security agents in dark business suits roamed the halls before President Bush's arrival Wednesday at Madison Central High School.
Everything was businesslike and by the book. Reporters and photographers had to fax basic information to White House press officials the evening before the event to get passes.
Information submitted included each reporter's name, newspaper, title, date of birth and Social Security number.
Reporters with television satellite trucks and cameras had to be at the school between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. After that, agents conducted security sweeps of the area. Media without large cameras and equipment could arrive as late as 8 a.m.
As time passed, the traffic got heavier.
There was congestion at the Interstate 55 and Highway 463 interchange, the intersection of Highway 463 and Highland Colony Parkway and the entrance to the school.
While most of the spectators had to wait in long lines outside the school, reporters had easy access to a press gallery cordoned off in the gymnasium but far from the presidential stage.
Reporters and photographers had to be in place by 9 a.m. The speech was scheduled to begin at 10:25 but Bush did not arrive in the gymnasium until about 10:40. Two thousand audience members chatted; reporters talked shop.
Bush headlined a noon fund-raiser at the Hilton for U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering. Only a few reporters were allowed to cover the event; they passed information along to other reporters. A $25,000-a-ticket fund-raiser at an undisclosed location was off-limits to all news media.