You can check out my blog on Alzheimer's Disease: The Brand for the content from the meeting but I figure my writer colleagues might be interested in actual logistics. Being frustrated about denied access to the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) although I submitted proper credentials, I inquired about media access to the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA). I am guessing that AAIC didn't love the media clips I submitted about dubious monotherapy solutions for a complicated complex genetic-environmental clinical syndrome. Regardless, they state "AAIC press registration and press badges are available only to credentialed journalists from recognized external print, broadcast, syndicated or online news organizations." I submitted the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) membership (required), Association of Healthcare Journalists (AHCJ) credential, AND the online news organization (100,000 hits a month) but was denied after weeks of waiting and a curt if not rude response to my query.
Coincidentally my request to attend WHCOA was handled promptly with a professional reply and a promise to follow-up once they had designated criteria for press. True to her word I was notified Friday afternoon so had to scramble to get to DC for the morning meeting but I guess that's just life in the big leagues.
I walked to the White House from my hotel on Dupont Circle curious if they would allow an umbrella through the gates. Perhaps I have watched more than my share of Batman/Penguin kerfuffles but it wasn't a problem. When you are confirmed, security checks are completed beforehand so when I showed up on the press list, I was issued a badge and escorted to the press room.
The press room looks exactly as it appears on television only unremarkably smaller. There are press folks like me, just there for the day, and then the more territorial White House Press. You can tell if you are sitting in someone's preferred seat by the flinty glances and frenetic pacing. Every news organization you have ever heard of has a small desk in the press office along narrow halls and small niches. At the end of the little cafe hall (small espresso machine, coffee maker, fridge for staff) you find a small narrow table (filled with large personalities and zero elbow room), and two vending machines. As an escapee from medical meetings, it was an abrupt realization that lunch or even beverages ended at the smudged glass of a snack machine. I figured that getting into the White House might be at least the same as entering a plane so only smuggled a bag of almonds onto the grounds.
Scroll down on the right if you want to see the final agenda for the meeting.
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