The Republican Convention is intriguing, and not just pundits' explanations of Chris Christie's speech or watching the "We Built This" theme come apart at the seams. No, what's really intriguing is how the 15,000 journalists sent into the path of a hurricane to report on all of the same things only seem to care about Diet Coke.
According to Glynnis MacNicol, Capital New York's RNC correspondent, "Last week, digital-media guru Jeff Jarvis wrote a post challenging reporters to explain why they were attending the conventions. Here is one answer: Free lunch and massages." MacNicol then goes on about the joys of Arianna Huffington's "Oasis", which is complete with 500-calorie lunches, free beverages, and massages for tired reporters. But they were missing one thing: "There is no Diet Coke here, I am gently informed by the woman who comes to take my order." No. Way.
To better understand this serious and potential lunch-ruining First World Problem, you have to understand the place of Diet Coke has in the lives of journalists. As Yahoo's Dylan Stableford pointed out back in March, caffeine is the fuel that powers political reporters (that and free 500 calorie lunches). Some, like Buzzfeed's McCkay Coppins, drink upwards of five Diet Cokes per day—preferring it to Diet Pepsi because it has more caffeine. This brown elixir of life—it's like Honey Boo Boo's Go Go Juice for the Twitter set— has worked its way into the veins of all political reporters, and without it, they get very thirsty. And very cranky (despite all the free food and drinks they are getting). Here's some anecdotal proof of Tampa's Diet Coke-drinking scene:
From aides like Legislative Coorespondent/Press Assistant at U.S. House of Representatives Ashley Noland who tweeted:
To self-described "media addict" Rachel Sklar:
And yes, apparently the lack of Diet Coke at HuffPo's Shangri-La is as newsworthy as the massages, the refreshments, the nap rooms, and free spa products that Huffington's henchmen are handing out. And it isn't the first time journalists have been cut off from their life-giving fluid this week. Tampa Bay Times designer Darla Cameron had this to tweet:
And there's an even more startling status update from journalist Elizabeth Bunn today:
Tampa Convention Center is out of diet coke (cans)— Elizabeth Bunn (@elizabethmbunn) August 29, 2012
Can these willing "refugees" survive without Diet Coke? Sure. But is writing about wanting more of the stuff more interesting than another story about Chris Christie's speech? You bet. Maybe we should start a collection to buy a case of Diet Coke for these poor souls: For just pennies a day, the cost of a cup of coffee, you can help provide a media person with a Diet Coke. Won't you help?