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Review of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural festivities in D.C.


Newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama waves at the crowd after his inauguration on January 21, 2013 at the Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo by Joseph Earnest


by Joseph Earnest  January 26, 2013


Newscast Media HOUSTON, TexasJournalists in a sense, are historians. They chronicle events as they happen in real time.  A week before the 2013 inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee accredited Newscast Media to cover the inauguration.  The news came as a surprise to this journalist, considering the hardcore and hard-hitting news articles I write, where at times I have voiced my disagreement with some of the White House policies.  


Nevertheless, Team Obama seems to like and value my work, and availed not just one, but three separate credentials for me to cover the presidential inauguration. Below is a review (not an analysis) of my experience while covering the events.


The festivities kicked off last week on Saturday January 19, and that was the same week I was invited to cover the events, so I had to make plans to travel in just a matter of hours.  Surprisingly, I was able to find a hotel in the D.C. Metro area that had unoccupied rooms, and checked in on Friday January 18.  


As soon as I arrive, I check my e-mail, and find a message from the Presidential Inaugural Committee, reminding me to pick up my credentials at the Washington Convention Center.  At this point, I haven't yet unpacked my bags, so I take a quick photograph of my belongings, as a safety precaution, then dash out to the convention center, since I am already familiar with the area.


I left my unpacked bags and laptop in my hotel room, but as a precautionary measure, I took this snapshot to create an electronic record of my possessions. Photo by Joseph Earnest


The criteria used by Team Obama to carefully hand-pick which media outlets will be granted access to these high-profile events is still a mystery.  I believe I was the only media outlet in Houston that was chosen. From the very beginning, the Presidential Inaugural Committee was very courteous toward me, and displayed impeccable manners. Very well-behaved! They answered all my questions, wanted to make sure I felt welcome while in the District, and were pleasant in the way they conducted themselves, so as to make my stay delightful. I give credit where it is due.


One thing I know for sure is, before issuing credentials, Team Obama visits each Web site, and reads as many articles as possible on a regular basis, to authenticate whoever is chosen to cover the event. Since Barack Obama himself is a hands-on kinda guy, his input definitely carries much weight and influence on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's decisions. Below is my official welcome to D.C.

inaugural welcome

Washington D.C. is the city of credentials. Every event requires a separate credential for media practitioners to cover.  The most dominant media outlets in Washington DC covering the inaugural festivities, (with the exception of FOX and CNN) were Reuters, Getty Images and the Associated Press.  


I arrive at the Washington Convention Center, and the place is jam-packed with Secret Service agents.  Interestingly enough, even Secret Service agents have to show their IDs to each other.  I approach one agent and ask him to point me to the "media credential pick-up" area, which he does. I thereafter pick up my package, and head back to the hotel.  Below is what the inaugural credentials look like.



Once again, I took this picture to create an electronic record of my credentials, in case something happened to them.  As you can see, the festivities started on Saturday January 19, as mentioned earlier.


On my way back, I decide to stop at a grocery store and do some grocery shopping, that way I wouldn't have to eat food loaded with MSG. One thing I noticed about Washington D.C. is that it has high taxes.  The sales tax in the District is 14.25% while in Texas it is only 8.25%. Also in Texas we don't pay sales tax on groceries, if you purchase groceries for $30, that is exactly what you pay—no additional taxes.


The next morning, Chelsea Clinton held an event at the National Mall since it was the National Day of Service. She co-hosted it with Eva Longoria and intermittently bands played music and also some musical acts performed for the crowd.

national day of service

The National Day of Service encourages Americans to be of service to their families, friends, communities or organization of their choice, and to give back to society in form of serving others. This year's National Day of Service was held on January 19, 2013. Photo by Joseph Earnest



chelsea clinton

Chelsea Clinton delivering a speech in honor of Martin Luther King.  She told the audience that in her family, doing volunteer work is mandatory, and she gets her inspiration from her grandmother who diligently served others with the few resources she had. Photo by Joseph Earnest



eva longoria

Actress Eva Longoria a native Texan, encouraged the Latino community to get involved in their communities at the local level. Longoria was named Philanthropist of the year by the Hollywood Reporter for her commitment to Latino causes and giving back to the community, and was co-chair of the 2012 Barack Obama re-election campaign. Photo by Joseph Earnest



michelle obama

Michelle Obama remotely delivered her message to a national audience encouraging Americans to be of service to each other and local communities. Later in the day, Michelle Obama hosted the "Kids Inaugural Concert" in honor of military families and local area kidsPhoto by Joseph Earnest


The official swearing-in occurred on Sunday January 20, behind closed doors, then on Monday January 21, was the ceremonial swearing-in that was open to the public.  It coincided with Martin Luther King Day, allowing attendees to hit two birds with one stone. The inaugural parade took place on Pennsylvania Ave.



Newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama waves at the crowd after his inauguration on January 21, 2013 at the Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo by Joseph Earnest


Overall, security was tight on inauguration day, and several streets were closed. The media had its own entry and checked in before the rest of the crowd, allowing media practitioners to secure the finest spots.  Credentials were required to be displayed at all times for those of us who had access to the president.



Attendees of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural festivities in Washington D.C. Photo by Joseph Earnest


This was my first coverage of a live inauguration, and as a journalist, the experience of capturing and documenting the event, allows me to tell my personal eyewitness account, instead of relying on third parties to tell the tale. Continue to the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Festivities for more photos of the events>>

 michelle obama







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