Class Notes

Thursday, February 4, 2016 – Caucus Debriefing

Anelia’s Experience:

“For a reflective person, there should always be a difference between your plan, and the execution for your plan.” Difference should weigh more heavily on more productive & creative.

Goal was to capture as much of the flavor of the event. “I assigned myself to recover both Republicans & Democrats – had 1 hour to do as much as possible.”

Looked on Facebook page for Newspaper. Wanted to upload the videos in real time, because the videos would lay the ground work for writing the story.

Advantages: knew people in the community & could get quotes from people AND location-all the people were in the high school. Could go quickly from one room to another.

First, she walked in and talked to the chair (video on Facebook), didn’t tweet and didn’t write extended paragraphs – wanted to keep up with what she was encountering.

Landed in Democratic side because it took more time – wanted time marks, too.

The school gym was not conducive to reporting – one ward was along the bleachers on one side, the other ward was on the other side. Could not move very easily from person to person. She interviewed the mayor and a first time voter.

Complaint: Hillary people complained that Anelia was moving too much. She moved to cafeteria where there was another Democratic event; much more conducive for reporting. Chaotic, but worked in her favor. She had a group following her making a documentary for the newspaper, sports editor in Gainesville, & a reporter in Des Moines. She knew the people in the rolls, so that helped, too. Moved very freely because they didn’t care since it was so chaotic.

At7:30/7:45. Knew Republicans were going to finish quickly, so she went back to them, and got there just in time to see them counting the votes. Was newsworthy because Republicans had a special app that they were using for the first time this year. And suddenly everything was over.

She didn’t have a car after other people left, and it was a 20 minute walk back to the newsroom. So, she saw a car and people were waiting and she knocked on the door and asked for a ride and it happened to be a guy she had written stories about before. The reason she had to get back right away was because they were needing to write the story that night. The news crew was there already; she and Eric started working on the story.

They were both the authors, but everyone wrote their specific experiences/what they observed. They started at around 9 p.m. She built in the interviews, and she built the story from the bottom-up. Made sure to have balance from gender and time of feedback. Still didn’t know the results from Democrats at that time. She decided to go with a story where she discussed times that things happened, and it got later and later so she had to decide to either:

A: Call the race – risky, because you could be wrong.

B: Go with what you know at the time – less risky; in this case, stated that it was a tie. Problem: headline would be old because it’s a 2-day/week paper

Ended up with a general headline. She had an inkling that Hillary was going to win, but she didn’t want to jump the gun. What if she didn’t win? ALWAYS MAKE A MISTAKE IN FAVOR OF CAUTION. “Always err on the side of caution.”

Other challenges: Computers crashed, reporter (Eric) was losing his patience, press people  were calling and needed to get the copy so they could print. What happens if you’re late: charge you, if it doesn’t get to post office on time then it won’t get delivered. You end up “cutting the limb you’re sitting on as a business.” Finally by 12:30 she gave in because she realized that it wouldn’t happen by the early hours of that day, so she signed off on it. Waiting wasn’t working anymore – was wise for a while, though.

“Your job as a reporter is to capture the evolution of the event. Doesn’t have to have closure.”

Discussed what happened for us.

  • chaotic
  • started late
  • stressful
  • didn’t put up wall until everyone was arranged (in union)
  • Union: Bernie had 253, O’Malley had 7 before realignment, Hillary had 36
  • Could tell Hillary people were upset, wanted to interview someone but she started crying
  • A lot of people didn’t want to be filmed, especially off-campus

A lot of events that you cover as a journalist appear to be chaotic. We have a false sense of structure. Real life isn’t actually that structured. It is a constant flux. Your job as a reporter is to make sense of it and organize it for the reader. The beauty of a chaos.

Ethical decision whether to film or not. Nothing you can do to make someone talk. Right now we don’t have any credentials – if we’d had a press jacket/pass, they’d be more likely to talk to you. Still, a lot of people don’t want to talk to media. Important not to forge a document. “UNI Press” tags were technically okay, but still not quite legal – they were not technically press.

This class is also about learning about yourself. It’s hard to approach people who you can tell don’t like you. “It’s easy for anyone to hate the media.” It’s not that easy to be in media. It’s tough, physical, ethical, emotional. Keep moving on to people if you’re not getting what you want.

If people ask you why you’re doing it: Say it’s for a class AND for a blog that’s public. But just say it’s for a blog, from here on out.

As you continue, your regrets list gets longer.


Homework: write the story at home; report state results & report how your ward went/voted, then write the story. Will grade the assignment as a whole. Put links in for videos – wants them in ready to play. Can include other videos too. Tweets should be screen-shotted & put in sometime – if they don’t fit in a certain spot you can put them in the bottom. Pictures wherever.


News blog also due next week.


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