Journalist for a Day: A Student's Experience at the Debate

press-checkin-home

Photo: Gil Talbot

A garden sprung up on the grass outside Stoutenburgh Gymnasium, with big satellite flowers on stalks of wire and cable. The major networks, camped around the campus in big white microwave trucks, weren’t the only ones covering the debate; the Carr Center was bustling with over 700 news media reporters, journalists, photographers, cameramen, and other team members from all over the world.

Credentialed by ABC News, I was invited to report on the event for the Saint Anselm Crier. I sat in the front row in the press filing room, watched the debate with a room full of experienced journalism teams, and spoke to governors, U.S. representatives and senators, and directors and secretaries of federal offices who endorsed the Republican candidates for the Presidency. It was an amazing, new, and fulfilling experience for me to sit next to representatives from BBC News, to hear the stories of Occupy protesters and the supporters of the Republican candidates, and to communicate in broken Italian with a trio from a news media in Italy.

The 700 reporters were assigned seats along lines of tables set up in front of giant projector screens. In the hours before the debate, Occupy protesters marched on campus, setting up camp in the St. Joan of Arc parking lot. They carried signs and vigil candles, a coffin hoisted on the shoulders of six men, and beat on drums to lament the death of the American Dream. Vermin Supreme, a satirical performance artist who campaigns for the presidency on the platform of zombie awareness and tooth-brushing, joined the ranks of the Occupy Manchester/Saint Anselm movement. Republican supporters who shared the same space as the Occupiers had shouting matches over their favorite presidential candidate. Just like the garden of satellites, the supporters and protesters created a lush and colorful garden of picket signs. Everyone had a story to tell, including a group of Orthodox Jews from overseas protesting Zionism and an advocacy group for programs and services for children.

During the debate, the reporters focused on typing notes; during commercial breaks, discussions on new media outlets, such as Twitter and microblogging, were ubiquitous. Whenever a candidate would offer up an inspiring quote, the reporters gave a satisfied sigh; whenever there was an effective tack or a scathing side-comment, the reporters would laugh and groan. We were an audience beyond those in the seats in the Dana Center’s Koonz Theatre, and we were bringing this news to the rest of the world. It was fascinating, hearing the responses of the news teams as they prepared to write their stories and condense the information for the viewers and readers of their morning news. When the debate ended at eleven, there was a mad rush to the building next door, where we heard and recorded the words of government officials who reacted to the debate and gave support to the Republican candidates; the candidates themselves also joined the spin room, trying to get the press to hear more of their story.

From the moment the giant screens in our press room began airing the debate, I could feel a sense of pride and joy that my school, my little school in quiet New Hampshire, was at the eye of the world of politics. Saint Anselm College was praised by many for being a welcoming host; the spirit of the Benedictine tradition was definitely in the air during the whole debate process. Every journalist, every reporter, had a story to tell that night. In Manchester New Hampshire—at Saint Anselm College—history was made, and I was there to see it.

View all of the videos from the debates:

This post was submitted by Dylan Lindholm.

The Day After – Live at the NHIOP

Debate participants wave to the crowd before the debate
Debate participants wave to the crowd before the debate

Debate participants wave to the crowd before the debate.

After a few hours of sleep, the networks were back at it setting up live shots for the morning news shows, in order to discuss the winners and losers of last night’s GOP debate. Starting at 5:30 a.m., the New Hampshire Institute of Politics TV studio was bustling as producers, makeup artists and staffers arrived to prep for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s interviews with CBS, CNN and Fox News.

During his live shot on CBS’ “The Early Show” Governor Pawlenty said, “I had an opportunity last night to present my vision for America, which is to reduce taxes and regulation and get investment and jobs growing again in this country. And a big part of the debate was focused on my plan to do that, and I was grateful for that opportunity. But we're united in trying to defeat Barack Obama. There will be some differences amongst Republicans as well. But last night the focus was on the president."

Following his television shots, Governor Pawlenty reiterated that sentiment during several radio interviews from the NHIOP’s green room.

This post was submitted by Carolyn Hammer.

Behind the Scenes with the Saint Anselm Runners

Saint Anselm students stand in on the debate stage
Saint Anselm students stand in on the debate stage

Saint Anselm students stand in on the debate stage

“I cannot even put into words this experience,” said Lyndsay Robinson ’14. "Working the debate is such a surreal experience – you jump right from the classroom into reality,” said Abigail Krusemark ’14. Krusemark flew in all the way from Kansas City, Missouri to work the debate. She and about 40 fellow Saint Anselm College students have been working diligently with CNN over the past six days to prepare for
tonight’s big event.

CNN hired the student “runners” to perform a host of tasks, including filling in for the candidates on the debate stage, helping out with live television shots on the quad, and setting up the “spin room” for interviews following tonight’s debate.

"As a runner you have to be prepared for the unexpected,” said Krusemark. “Yesterday, I met with CNN anchors, participated in the debate run-through, helped with the Don Lemon broadcast, and took a wild ride in a golf cart."

“CNN has put us to work hard, and they have really showed us what goes on behind the scenes,” said Robinson.

Robinson, Krusemark and all of the other debate runners have agreed on one thing – “it has been a once in a lifetime experience,” and they are so proud to be Saint Anselm College students.

"Our school has been transformed from a place of learning into a political zoo,” said Krusemark. “But, it's still home!"

This post was submitted by Carolyn Hammer.

Standing In

Saint Anselm students stand in for debate participants
Saint Anselm students stand in for debate participants

Saint Anselm students stand in for debate participants

Submitted by Vallerie Stein '14, a Saint Anselm student and runner working for CNN. Things just keep getting better as the week goes on. The set for the debate is almost done and it looks absolutely amazing! Although Saturday was a rainy day everyone was full of energy and was ready to work.

Our first job was to set up chairs for the audience. This was not a glamorous job, but it gave all of us the opportunity to talk with the staff. It was interesting to hear about all of the different things that go into creating the set for the debate.

Then, without notice, we were asked to head to the stage, where we were placed behind podiums. I was placed at the podium for Rick Santorum. The CNN staff used me and my fellow runners to do an audio check and to figure out camera angles and lighting.

It was amazing being able to debate with everyone on stage about the economy and to see ourselves up on the big projection screens in the debate hall.

Suddenly, the crew stopped, and a crew member appeared with a big platform. They told me that I needed to stand on it to mimic the height of the candidate. I was told that he is 6'2," and they needed to make sure the camera angles would be right.

We ended up being on stage for three hours! It was incredible to be standing where the candidates will be debating Monday night.

If you have an interesting experience or story relating to the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, submit your story through this blog. It's quick, and like this story, it just might appear in the Saint Anselm College Blog.

This post was submitted by Vallerie Stein.

This post was submitted by Vallerie Stein.

When Opportunity Knocks…

CNN's John King with Saint Anselm students

CNN's John King with Saint Anselm students

CNN's John King with Saint Anselm students

Submitted by Vallerie Stein '14, a Saint Anselm student and runner working for CNN. I cannot believe the opportunities that I have had in my first year at Saint Anselm. One year ago today, I graduated from High School, and today I am working with CNN!

On Thursday, I was part of the student group interviewed by Don Lemon. Today part of it aired on CNN. It was unbelievable that someone like me could be on TV. When the segment aired, many of us gathered around the television with looks of astonishment on our faces. It gives me the weirdest feeling to see our school on TV, but it also gives me so much pride in Saint Anselm. I am lucky to be here.

When I reported to the CNN office this morning, I was assigned to work with the people in charge of the audience. Although my career as a golf cart driver was over (my previous position included delivery and chauffeuring duties), I helped to organize the list of the Candidate's VIP guests, and learn about the role of the audience in a production.

The best part of my day was being able to have lunch with my boss. I had the opportunity to sit down with someone who had 41 years of experience with these sorts of events and working in broadcast journalism. Not only was her wisdom fascinating, but she had a sparkling personality that made us all laugh.

After the work day was done all of us runners were able to watch a John King broadcast his show from the Quad. I could not help but to have a big grin on my face the entire time. He is here on my campus, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Not only am I impressed with the production of everything, but all of the staff are incredibly nice and a pleasure to work with.

If you have an interesting experience or story relating to the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, submit your story through this blog. It's quick, and like this story, it just might appear in the Saint Anselm College Blog.

This post was submitted by Vallerie Stein.

This post was submitted by Vallerie Stein.

From Boston to Manchester in a Blink of an Eye!

Lyndsay with Don Lemon
Lyndsay with Don Lemon

Lyndsay with Don Lemon following their interview

Submitted by Lyndsay Robinson '14.  She will be working as a CNN runner during the debates. I was in Boston, Massachusetts interning for Senator Scott Brown when I got a call that CNN was looking to interview Saint Anselm students.

At first, I said "no" because I could not leave my internship, but then I realized, how could I pass up this opportunity?!

I got on the first train outbound. I arrived on campus and could not believe how fast the campus has transformed. Being interviewed by Don Lemon will be something that I will remember forever.

CNN is the homepage on my computer and I watch it daily, but being apart of yesterday's interview made all my dreams come true. I cannot wait to move back to Saint A's tomorrow to work the debates!

For additional photos from the Don Lemon interview, please visit Saint Anselm on Flickr.

Story submitted by Lyndsay Robinson '14. Lyndsay is a politics major, Russian minor. She will be working as a CNN runner during the debates assigned to audience and staging.

If you have an interesting experience or story relating to the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, submit your story through this blog. It's quick, and like this story, it just might appear in the Saint Anselm College Blog.

This post was submitted by Lyndsay Robinson.

Most Exciting Day I've Had on Campus!

Pieces from NH Republian Debate Stage (2007)
Pieces from NH Republian Debate Stage (2007)

Pieces from the debate stage (2007)

Submitted by Kristin Zanotti, a Saint Anselm student and runner working for CNN. I enjoyed every minute of working behind the scenes with CNN today. The whole day was filled with excitement from touring the CNN Express bus to joining fellow classmates in a filmed interview with CNN anchor Don Lemon! I loved being amidst the action that goes into preparing for the debates because I was learning so much. I can't wait for the next few days that follow, especially when the candidates arrive!

If you have an interesting experience or story relating to the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, submit your story through this blog. It's quick, and like this story, it just might appear in the Saint Anselm College Blog.

This post was submitted by Kristin Zanotti.