Poynter marketing director Jessica Blais got a phone call last month from a company coordinating displays at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s recent conference in Washington, D.C.: “everything’s here except Nelson,” they told her.
Poynter had commissioned a life-size cardboard cutout of its namesake founder, Nelson Poynter. The idea was that alumni of Poynter Institute programs attending the conference could pose for a picture with his likeness.
After learning Cardboard Nelson Poynter was missing, marketing coordinator Maria Jaimes hopped on the phone with the display facilitators and FedEx, which had been charged with the dead tree product’s safe transport from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. “We found out that he hadn’t actually arrived,” Jaimes said in a phone call. “He had been checked in at certain stops along the way.”
FedEx called back, looking for a description: “What is he wearing? What does he look like?” Jaimes said. “I think the correct answer is he was wearing cardboard pants and cardboard shirt,” Blais said.
FedEx was able to trace Cardboard Nelson Poynter to Baltimore, where he was scanned at 1:18 a.m. on Aug. 3, but that’s as far as it could track him (“Actually, shoot, he was really pretty close,” Blais said).
Is he flapping around Charm City looking for “Wire” locations? Edging around The Baltimore Sun newsroom?
“We have a cardboard cutout of H.L. Mencken in the newsroom, and it’s just possible that the two of them have gone off together,” the Sun’s John McIntyre writes in an email. “I suggest trolling the bars.”
FedEx officially declared Poynter missing this week, Blais told me in a phone call. Jaimes said she’s in the process of filing a claim. Will that bring any welcome dollars into the institute’s coffers?
Nelson is nominally worth $300, Blais said, “but we all know he’s worth much, much more.”