Posted January 13, 2016
Des Moines, Iowa — With two days in Iowa under my belt, the first word I could think of was “Wow.” I think this clearly explains my choice of the title for this post.
When I signed up for this class many months ago, I knew it would be interesting. I would be given the opportunity to head out in the (literal) field and see these candidates up close and personal instead of just watching them on a TV screen or through their social media accounts. I would be able to see professional journalists out on the trail covering the same campaign I was. I would get to live and breathe a topic that I love talking about: politics.
So far, I have been able to get up close and personal with three candidates: Dr. Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina. My colleague, Ashley Bohle, has been able to ask these candidates questions that matter to us college students. What are your plans to help curb student debt? How will you fix the economy to end the post-graduate anxiety that many college students face when there are zero to few jobs to be filled after graduation?
While she did the talking, I did the watching. As in watching to make sure the record button was on when we only could ask Carly Fiorina one question, watching the viewfinder to make sure Ben Carson did not pace out of the frame during his speech, and watching to make sure the microphone was plugged in correctly so we could hear every word of Ashley’s mini-conversation with Jeb Bush. It was incredibly nerve-wracking because I have heard a few instances in the history of Elon Local News where minor incidents prevent a major scoop. So far, my nerves have worked in my favor.
The adrenaline rush I felt within the packs of press is one I have never felt before. You are constantly on the lookout for where the candidate currently is in a room while also trying to predict where they will move next. You’re thinking of potential questions to ask if they give us even a minute of their time while trying to find interesting B-roll that works with your story idea. Meanwhile, you also have to compete with other videographers and photographers for the best angle of the candidate. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
I’m also incredibly impressed by the respect we have been given on the campaign trail. At the events I have been to so far, I never felt like we were not being taken seriously. We were considered journalists, not students that were beneath them. Professionals in the field have complimented us on our work ethic and professionalism. It is a testament to the lessons that we have learned at Elon so far. One of the reporters we met in the field was at two events we attended and even gave us some tips that he has learned throughout his career.
I can honestly say these two days have been incredible. After our first campaign event, I just sat in the car in silence for a few moments, staring out at the frozen landscape. I was in disbelief, not only that we were here, but we were telling stories and getting answers for our audience back home in the company of actual professionals in the field.
I am looking forward to the coming days and to continue taking Peter Maer’s advice to eat food when I see food.