College of Arts & Science at Miami University
Election Night! Reporting for The Cincinnati Enquirer
Look Ahead: Where Should I Be to Get the News?
(with student Colleen Rasa, November 2012)
A full text transcript of the video is available below.
(In this video Colleen Rasa, Journalism and Political Science double major, talks about reporting for The Cincinnati Enquirer on election night 2012, as well as the importance of immediacy in journalism.)
"I went to Butler County Board of Elections. That experience was amazing because not many seniors get the opportunity to be a senior during a general election and then also get the opportunity to work with a major newspaper in the area that you go to college and be able to have that experience of going to a board of elections and finding out 'What went wrong with the polls?' 'What’s going right?' 'What are the numbers going on right now?'
"It was hard at first because the lingo was kind of tough because just simple things like 'absentee,' or 'provisional,' and they say those things really quickly, next to each other, and it makes it a little more difficult to track. And they're giving you big numbers that you're writing down, but they're just, you know, rolling them off. It was fun, it was a great time, and it was something I will always remember. I still have my Cincinnati Enquirer badge and I put it on my bulletin board and I hope I'll have that for a really long time.
"I don't know if I necessarily want to write for a newspaper. I'm a news director for the radio station here, so I enjoy that type of social media. While I was there at the board of elections I was taking a lot of video and I was getting some sound bites, walking around the warehouse when all of the memory cards were coming in. I was hoping to give it a more visual and sound element to the whole thing because I knew that I didn't know anything about the board of elections; I didn't know what it looked like, I didn't know what it sounded like, I didn't know who was even working there, so adding that visual element was something I worked on because that's something I think I would want to do in the future.
"It was just a great experience also to be on your toes, for any job. When you go into a job that you don't know a thing about exactly what you're going to have to be doing, it's a great experience. I learned the lesson that it's never stupid to ask a question; and if you ask a question, ask it with a smile. If you ask it with a smile, people will answer. I had a great time because people did react well to me when I was asking questions. It's about the art of listening, and if you don't understand something, clarify it, and that's something you'll take with you for your whole entire life.
"With social media we were constantly tweeting. I would send a text message to one of my teachers and I'd say, 'update, dash,' like this is what it is, 'tweet'’ all in caps, and I was like, 'I don't know ... I don't know if I should tweet this yet,' you know, because it was so immediate, they don't even know if that's the number yet. It was that moment that you're scared to tweet something when it's that right now but it's not going to be like that in the next ten minutes.
"It was that immediacy of journalism and the media that you really do learn full on. You realize that it's what's going on right now that matters, not what happened ten minutes ago; it's looking ahead. Where is the news going to be in the next ten minutes? And where should I be to get that news? And it was a constant walking around trying to figure out what's now. I got in trouble because I didn't tweet, and you know if I wait five minutes and don't tweet it, it's gone; it's almost like it didn't happen.
"That's something you learn about in this whole, entire class [JRN 421: Capstone in Journalism], is the immediacy of journalism. You write a blog post when it's happening, you don't wait ten minutes to think about it, you've got to write your notes quick and then write it. I learned at the board of elections how to write a quick blog that's factual and has good sources. I think by the end of the semester I was able to do that a lot better than I did in the beginning, and that was another skill — writing fast but still making sense."