Welcome to our Sun Valley live blog, running July 6-July 10. Check here for the latest buzz from one of the most important media gatherings of the year.
It all seemed so promising. The first night at the Sun Valley Lodge bar at the annual Allen & Co gathering had been a happy affair for the press corps as they mingled freely with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (that’s him on the right), WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, Activision’s Bobby Kotick, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Capital Research’s Gordy Crawford, Lachlan Murdoch and Harvey Weinstein, among many others.
But the press corps, lulled into a false sense of bonhomie by the new openness, were in for a big disappointment this morning when they got to the Sun Valley Inn. The organizers have decided that press is no longer allowed to hang around the lobby area to speak with event guests as they leave presentations. It also means many a journalist/blogger here will no longer have a nearby location from which to file stories.
The normally amiable but stern off-duty New York cops who act as security here were asked how reporters were going to be able to power their laptops and write stories. One guard seriously suggested filing stories from the lavatory. I guess that’s one way of expressing his true opinion of journalists.
The Bald Mountain resort in Sun Valley offers moguls for advanced skiers all winter long. Media reporters show up every July for the other kind of mogul, who lands among the picturesque Idaho mountains on a private jet and has a name like “Rupert Murdoch” or “Barry Diller.”
Reporters are supposed to be part of the scenery — not part of the conference itself.* They must stand around and hope that one of the more than 200 invitees decides to speak to them, and hopefully dispense a few nuggets of news. Fortunately, this week’s weather is supposed to be sunny, dry and warm during the day, and comfortably chilly at night.
For a Sun Valley freshman like this Reuters reporter, it sounds scary terrifying, despite the clement weather forecast. I asked New York Times media columnist David Carr, who covered the conference in 2007, for some advice. Here are some excerpts from our phone conversation;
Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can think of will be camping out in the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. They have aimed their Gulfstreams squarely at Idaho so they can show up at the 27th edition of Allen & Co’s media and technology conference, which investment banker Herb Allen holds every summer here.
That means nearly every media reporter you can think of will be hovering among the hedgerows and parking lots (and in the bar, naturally), waiting to get a few precious seconds with super-wattage movie executives from DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg to Paramount’s Brad Grey, technology heavyweights such as Michael Dell and Bill Gates, media kingpins Philippe Dauman and Rupert Murdoch and fresh-faced startup darlings like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Evan Williams and Ning’s Gina Bianchini.
Reuters, of course, will be among the press crew at the scene. Reporters Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will show up, as will I, and photographer Rick Wilking will be shooting the pictures that at Sun Valley often tell a more eloquent story than any text dispatch can.