Students Work in Media Filing Center

If having presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley on your college campus wasn’t exciting enough, five Saint Anselm students were given the opportunity to work for ABC News in the Media Filing Center ahead of Saturday night’s Democratic Debate.

Working in the filing center and spin room, students Stefan Skalimski ’18, Courtney Pelletier ’18, Phoebe Ferraiolo ’17, Abby Smith ’17, and Emily Dewey ’17, have been watching the political process in action.

“It’s a really good opportunity to see behind the scenes, watch the debate set up, and also network,” said politics major and communication minor Ferraiolo.

Throughout the afternoon, the students checked-in the media and gave out press credentials. More than 400 reporters, photographers, and members of the associated press are expected to check-in by the start of the debate.

For many of the students, having the presidential debates on campus was a main reason for choosing Saint Anselm College. Politics major Skalimski was deciding between Catholic University in Washington D.C and Saint Anselm, but ultimately decided on Saint Anselm because of his interest in political campaigns and the political presence at the college.

“The debates on campus are definitely a reason why I came here,” he said.

For the past two days, Skalimski has set-up the filing center: folding place cards, putting out chairs and hanging banners. Through the course of the day, he has directed the media personnel to their tables and in the process met representatives from Fox News, CNN, and other news organizations.

By the end of the night, Skalimski hopes one of the candidates makes an appearance in the spin room. However, the experience alone has made his time worthwhile, regardless of whether he sees Hillary or Bernie in the building,

“Working at the debates alone is a dream come true for a college politics major and I’m excited to have this opportunity,” said Skalimski.

Students prepare media filing center


Students Work Behind the Scenes at the Democratic Debate

Behind the scenes at the ABC News Democratic Presidential Debate, Saint Anselm College students have been working around the clock in preparation for tonight’s event. More than 50 Saint Anselm College students are working for ABC. They’re standing-in for candidates during test shots, acting as ushers, meeting and greeting the media, and even acting as Martha Raddatz’s personal student-assistant.

Saint Anselm students assist in debate preparationSince Monday business major and politics minor Brian Pickowicz '16 has been working as the ABC News production manager’s assistant running errands, assisting with set production, and providing any necessary support to the ABC team. “The cool thing about being his shadow is how much I saw and learned,” says Pickowicz.

“I learned first-hand how everything in production works,” he says.

Politics major Ashley Motta '17 has also been assisting in the debate preparation as a runner for the engineering team. She unloaded trucks, ran cables, and set up the debate hall—all while also taking her final exams. She’s attending the debate tonight, seeing all her work come together during the live broadcast.

“I didn’t imagine all the roles that needed to come together to make this happen,” she says.

Fr. Jonathan's Remarks: ABC Presidential Primary Debate

Good evening and welcome to Saint Anselm College! Our community of Benedictines, trustees, faculty, staff, and students is privileged to host you here tonight for this important event in our American democracy. There are far too many dignitaries here tonight to name them all, but I do want to offer a special welcome to the members of our New Hampshire Congressional Delegation: Senator Kelly Ayotte, and representatives Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass. We are honored tonight to have with us New Hampshire’s senior statesman, Senator Judd Gregg and his wife Kathy Gregg, both of whom have been great friends of Saint Anselm College and especially our New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

We are pleased to be working once again with ABC and WMUR to offer a forum for presidential candidates to present their views just days before New Hampshire’s voters go to the polls in the first-in-the-nation primary. I offer them very special thanks for arranging this Republican Presidential Primary Debate, and to you for being here in the audience.

During the school year, the seats you occupy tonight are filled with Saint Anselm freshmen and sophomores who are listening to lectures about humanity’s great thinkers, leaders and creators. Our students are asked to engage with these minds, to listen, to question, to challenge and consider – and ultimately to determine what they think and believe.

Tonight, we are all students, not only those of us here in the Dana Center, but the millions of viewers across New Hampshire, the country and the world. We will listen carefully, engage with what is said, question and consider – and ultimately decide who we believe is the person best suited to lead our dear nation in this complicated and contentious time.

We in New Hampshire take seriously our responsibility as the country’s first primary voters. We know that civic engagement is essential to patriotism, and that our democracy cannot and will not survive without the participation of its citizens.

At Saint Anselm, it is part of our educational mission to help students develop the skills and wisdom they need to live in and help lead our nation. Our New Hampshire Institute of Politics, founded more than 10 years ago, embodies that mission not only for our students but also the citizens of our state.

Tonight, we are pleased to once again serve as America’s classroom on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Hosting debates is an Anselmian tradition. Welcome again, and please join me in a brief prayer:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.

You are the creator of all life, and the source of all wisdom.

We are grateful for the many gifts you have given us especially grateful tonight for the gift we have to live in the freedom of the United States of America, and we pray for those who are defending that freedom in the armed services.

Send the help of your Spirit on President Obama and on all who would hope to hold our nation’s highest office, that they may be capable of serving with wisdom and prudence, with justice and compassion.

Give us the help we need to discern who will best serve our nation and your plan.

Keep all of the candidates and all of us gathered here at Saint Anselm College ever safe in your love.

Blessed are you, Lord God, for ever and ever.

Fr. Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B.
Saint Anselm College

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

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:

Stage is Set for New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate

We are live from the Dana Center as anticipation builds for tonight’s debate. Following a 4 p.m. dinner break, students and ABC staffers are wrapping up last-minute preparations for the broadcast: our students are participating in the last dress rehearsal, and World News will broadcast from the debate stage at 6:30.

Protesters and supporters are beginning to arrive outside, as are the media. Satellite trucks have overtaken the lawn in front of the gym, as hundreds of seats inside the Carr Center will soon be occupied by members of the national and international press.

From my workstation (located about ten feet from Diane Sawyers desk), we are preparing to upload images from our photographer who will be inside the hall tonight. After a long week of preparations, we’re all anxious to hear our five favorite words soon: “live from Saint Anselm College!”

Students Get in on ABC Debate Action

People are giving Ryan Sandford funny looks. That's because today, he's a human camera. The freshman criminal justice major is walking around campus wearing a helmet cam, documenting as much of the debate night action as possible. It is part of his job with the Office of College Communications and Marketing.

Other students are working as runners, greeters, assistants and stand-ins. Burke Bero and Alicia Blanchard were part of a panel of "wise men," or political analysts, on a set in the Dana Center. Bero stood in for Jake Tapper, ABC News' senior White House correspondent, and Blanchard was political strategist Donna Brazile. ABC camera operators practiced their angles as the faux pundits conversed about the candidates. At the same time, six students stood at podiums on the main set, acting the parts of the Republican candidates. When the debate begins at 9 pm, the lighting, cameras, and audio will be honed to perfection.

Live: New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate

Tonight, we are broadcasting the New Hampshire Republican Primary Debate live from the Dana Center. Watch the live stream right here, join in on the live discussion with Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D., and interact with us.

Live Stream and Discussion

Recent Videos

GOP Debate Week: Tuesday

Amanda Sharon '15 and Ashley Scoville '15 work as runners for ABC News at the Radisson Hotel on January 3.

With four days to go before the Republican Primary Debate on January 7, the campus is soon to become a media maelstrom. In the Dana Center, where the event will be hosted by ABC and WMUR, Christmas wreaths came down and aluminum trusses went up. Lighting technicians hung and cabled 175 lights. Cushing Student Center was becoming FOX News “command central,” and a FOX News studio set was being created in Davison Hall.

Four miles away, in Manchester’s Radisson Hotel, dozens of Saint Anselm students worked as runners for CBS and ABC, laying cable, putting up signs, and setting up chairs and tables. Tom Snow ’14, a politics major, sat in for anchor Scott Pelley on the CBS set and has also sat in for TV talk show host Charlie Rose. Tomorrow morning, he and Gabriella Servello ’14 report for work at 4:30 to work the “green room” before the 7am show airs.

It’s fairly calm right now, one runner remarked, but once the candidates and journalists arrive from Iowa, where the caucus is taking place today, they expect to be literally running.

Check out the complete photo gallery below.


Saint Anselm, ABC, WMUR to Host Primary Debate

Every four years, Saint Anselm has a tradition of extending our Benedictine hospitality to presidential primary candidates, the news media, and the general public for nationally televised debates.

Saint Anselm College will once again play this important role by hosting a Republican debate with ABC and WMUR, to be held the Saturday evening prior to the New Hampshire primary. The debate will air nationally from 9 to 11 p.m.

ABC hosted the final Granite State presidential debates at Saint Anselm in 2008 (see photos) – an event that brought Republican and Democratic candidates on stage together for the first time, only days before the first-in-the-nation votes were cast.

From ABC News:

  • ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos to Moderate Debate from Saint Anselm College with WMUR Anchor Josh McElveen
  • Debate to Air in Primetime at 9:00 PM/ET on the ABC Television Network
  • Excerpted Debate to Re-Air the Following Morning on “This Week with Christiane Amanpour”

ABC News and WMUR-TV, ABC’s Hearst-owned affiliate in Manchester, NH, are joining forces once again to host a Republican presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire just days before the Granite State’s first in the nation primary — a critical moment in the Republican nomination process. It will be the only broadcast network debate in primetime before the primary and will take place on the Saturday night preceding the primary from 9:00-11:00pm/ET. The debate will air live nationally on the ABC Television Network and locally on WMUR-TV and will be moderated by ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos; they will be joined by WMUR-TV anchor Josh McElveen.

The debate will stream live on, Yahoo!, and ABC News Radio, the nation’s largest commercial radio news organization, will carry it live on its stations. ABC News will re-air an excerpted version of the debate the following Sunday morning on “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

The candidates will be asked about the critical issues the country faces in front of a live audience at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. Eligibility criteria for a candidate’s participation will be posted on later this week.

ABC News and WMUR-TV co-hosted back-to-back Democratic and Republican presidential debates in 2008 at the same critical point in the 2008 primary season and have enjoyed a long partnership covering “First in the Nation” politics in New Hampshire. In 2008, more than 9 million viewers across the country tuned in to watch the Democratic debate and 7.35 million for the Republican debate. The debates were also among the highest-rated programs in WMUR-TV history.

When the debate was announced in December, ABC News President Ben Sherwood said, “The days between Iowa and New Hampshire have often been make-or-break for candidates, and we look forward to putting the crucial questions of the day to the contenders for the Republican nomination. We are confident that voters in New Hampshire, and across the country, will be able to make even better decisions after watching this debate.”

“WMUR is proud of our history of partnering with ABC for presidential debates” said Jeff Bartlett, WMUR-TV President and General Manager. “We are looking forward to producing another informative debate just days before the First in the Nation Primary and again providing New Hampshire voters with a critical look at the field of candidates,” Bartlett continued.

About WMUR-TV & Hearst Television

WMUR-TV is the leading source of television news in New Hampshire, reaching more than one million people, and is the largest commercial television station in the state. is the most viewed New Hampshire web site for local news. An ABC affiliate, WMUR is owned by Hearst Television, Inc.

Hearst Television Inc. owns 29 television stations and two radio stations, in geographically diverse U.S. markets. The Company’s television stations reach approximately 18% of U.S. TV households, making it one of the largest U.S. television station groups. Hearst owns 13 ABC affiliated stations, and is the largest ABC affiliate group. The Company owns 10 NBC affiliates, and is the second-largest NBC affiliate owner, and also owns two CBS affiliates.

About ABC News

ABC News is responsible for all of the ABC Television Network’s news programming on a variety of platforms: television, radio and the Internet. Its flagship program is “World News with Diane Sawyer” with other programs including “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” “Primetime,” “20/20,” and the Sunday morning political affairs program “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” With an average television and radio audience of 180 million people in a given month, ABC News surpasses the competition. More than 2,400 affiliate stations broadcast ABC News Radio’s global news coverage. In addition, ABC News NOW is a 24-hour news and information network currently available to 44 million users across cable, broadband, and mobile platforms. NewsOne, the affiliate news service of ABC News, provides live and packaged news, sports, and weather reports, as well as footage of news events, to 200 ABC affiliates and more than 30 domestic and international clients.


Signs, Chants, and Supporters

Campaign Supporter Area ABC/Facebook DebatesTo me, the biggest change to the campus came today. On the front lawn of Saint Anselm College a pen was set up to hold the supporters of the presidential candidates. I knew they were coming and as I walked down to set up the camera I thought I was well prepared. [Read more…]