Chicago Tribune: "Foreign journalists favorably impressed"
The first visit to Chicago for Michelle Stockman, a video journalist for French news agency AFP, made quite an impression.
Covering the NATO summit on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, Stockman found herself crushed between police and protesters in an escalating standoff along South Michigan Avenue. With the camera rolling, she became part of the frightening scene itself, her body contorted by the press of the crowd, her screams audible on her own news tape.
Collecting herself hours later, Washington D.C.-based Stockman reflected on a harrowing day at the office, and her overall take on the host city. Despite the rough welcome, she was so smitten that she plans to spend a few extra days here to do some Chicago-themed features.
"I saw this gleaming city on the lake that was full of amazing architecture — I would say even better than New York City — and that was really impressive to me," said Stockman. "For the show that they're putting on for NATO, Chicago officials have done themselves well."
Police officers in riot gear along the Magnificent Mile and armed Coast Guard boats patrolling the Chicago River made for a surreal backdrop, but Chicago garnered high marks, according to some of the 2,200 or so accredited journalists covering the summit. And though policymaking and protests drew most of the headlines, city backers can hope a plethora of future stories will burnish the city's image.
A carefully orchestrated sales pitch by the Chicago NATO host committee no doubt contributed, but unscripted moments may provide more lasting images for some journalists. And somewhat ironically, the street protests will help.
Francesco Bei, of the Rome newspaper la Repubblica, left the summit, traded his tie for a T-shirt and took a cab to see the escalating protests along South Michigan Avenue.
"We expected just to follow the summit and the press conference with our prime minister and Obama," Bei said. "Thanks to the protesters, we met the city."
Despite the protests, he liked what he saw on his second visit. "For me Chicago is the best: the architecture, the river and all the iron bridges, the lakefront, the aquarium" (which was closed).
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--Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune