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Press Vies for Access to Jiang Speech


When Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrives at Harvard Saturday morning the attention of the world will arrive with him--in the form of news-hungry television, radio and print reporters.

It's the job of Joe Wrinn of the Harvard Office of News and Public Affairs to coordinate the media frenzy. He has to decide who will be allowed into Sander's Theatre, how an international live feed will be set up and how reporters who are not admitted into the speech will be accommodated.

While the News Office has dealt with larger contingents of reporters, it has never had to deal such complex media arrangements before.

"The variety of medias and number of different countries are unequaled in my 17 years at Harvard," Wrinn says. What makes arrangements so difficult are the details--everything from parking to satellite feeds.

Even before the visit was confirmed, a rush of media requests indicated that this event would be beyond the scope of normal logistical arrangements. Though 300 media requests have been received by the News Office, only 80 reporters and 20 photographers will be allowed in Sanders Theatre.

Wrinn has turned television recording arrangements over to the Boston media pool, a permanent system arranged by all Boston television stations for covering events with limited access.

At this time 27 television stations are considering broadcasting the speech live via satellite.

The media pool will have access to two cameras inside Sanders, and an additional camera positioned in the hall to capture Jiang's official reception by Harvard's top brass. The Chinese media will have cameras stationed next to the Boston media pool cameras. Audio feed will be provided in English and Mandarin.

Print media will be allotted about 80 seats, roughly half of which will go to the traveling Chinese press corps and half to reporters selected by the Harvard News Office.

The Chinese press corps, according to National Security Council spokesperson P.J. Crowley, is a group of 175 media representatives organized by the Chinese government to travel with Jiang on his visit to the U.S. It consists primarily of Chinese reporters, but also includes a number of international media representatives and reporters from Japan, the BBC and CNN.

By mid-week, the corps had not yet told the News Office how many of the 80 seats it would claim. Once final numbers are arranged, the News Office will decide which media organizations to admit from the pool of 300 applications.

"I want a balance of student, local, national and international press," Wrinn says.

Organizations likely to get access are major newspapers and wire services such as The Associated Press, Reuter's, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. No more than one affiliate from each organization will receive a seat.

In order to accommodate press organizations not admitted to Sanders, Wrinn is arranging to set up a media room in Loker Commons. The coverage in the media room will be similar to that provided in the Science Center. A live television broadcast will be shown along with a feed in both English and Mandarin. Photographs will be provided by the University to news organizations not allowed on the floor.

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