Gathering News and Beating Deadlines
At The Democratic National Convention
Nineteen USC Journalism Students Help National, Local
News Outlets Cover the Convention Across All Media
It was Sunday afternoon, two days before the
opening of the Democratic National Convention, and University of
South Carolina journalism graduate student Jeffrey Sholar had a
As an intern for the Charlotte Observer, Sholar had been assigned
to shoot video of the so-called March on Wall Street South, one
of the largest protest rallies of the week.
Sholar set up his camera on the sidewalk, but he quickly realized
his vantage point would not capture the intensity of the moment.
He turned to a police officer and pleaded his case.
To Sholar’s surprise, the friendly officer waved the student
journalist past the security lines and allowed him to take his
camera into the middle of the rally.
“It was great to get up close, to show the scene from the
point of view of those in the march,” said Sholar. “I
got some shots that I was really proud of.”
Sholar is spending convention week shooting and editing video
for the Observer website. He is one of 19 USC journalism students
helping cover the convention as part of an internship program developed
by the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Some students are gathering information and video to help the
Associated Press broaden its reporting for newspaper, broadcast
and online news clients around the world. Others are working on
CNN’s live production team inside the Time Warner Cable Arena.
And still others are reporting, editing — and tweeting — for
local and regional news outlets.
All are taking advantage of the Charlotte convention to get hands-on
experience covering a major story. Dean Charles Bierbauer
says it should help the young journalists make the transition from
student to professional.
“These are students nearing the end of their college careers.
Their professional careers can be given an early boost by what
they report, what they experience and whom they meet in Charlotte,” Bierbauer
USC student Jamie Hicks understands what Bierbauer means.
After First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech Tuesday night,
Hicks raced between delegations on the convention floor gathering
comments for her employer, the Associated Press. With an AP photographer
in tow, she conducted interviews with delegates and fed details
back to AP editors for use in the wire service’s main convention
“I did not feel like an intern at all,” Hicks said. “I
felt like I was a regular AP reporter working the convention floor.”
Back at the Charlotte Observer, editors assigned USC student
Rachel Dean to cover a rally at Johnson C. Smith University that
featured U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina. The event
was designed to pump up enthusiasm among those young voters who
came out so strongly for President Obama four years ago. Would
they vote in such large numbers this year? Dean tried to find out.
Dean’s classmate, Meagean Dugger, won plaudits from her
editor at the Observer with a story she discovered in the Louisiana
delegation. Hurricane Isaac destroyed one delegate’s home
last week. Despite that setback, the woman was determined to take
her seat at the Charlotte convention. Dugger reported that the
woman’s fellow delegates held a fundraiser to help her and
other victims of the storm.
Social media is a big part of the students’ convention experience
At CNN’s HLN network, USC student Paulia Hughes is working
side-by-side with anchor Kyra Phillips and tweeting throughout
the day to update readers about events in the convention hall.
Nearby, at CNN en Espanol, USC student Daniela Jaimes works with
anchor Patricia Janiot to deliver updates to the Spanish-speaking
audience. And a few blocks away, Teagan Hance and Ali O’Hara
contribute to another 24-hour news operation, Time Warner Cable’s
News 14 Carolina, which is covering the convention for viewers
in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Wilmington.
Katie Geer spent part of her summer researching a controversial
new measure that allows the city of Charlotte to tighten restrictions
on protests by declaring the convention “an extraordinary
event.” As an intern working for Raycom’s Charlotte
and Columbia television stations, Geer will be following the many
rallies and protests across the city this week. She says she is
watching closely to see how the new measure is implemented and
whether it will face challenges in court.
Kahn Singleton and Megan Warner are working for
National Journal, one of Washington’s most prestigious news outlets. The magazine
of politics and policy is a must-read for political professionals.
Singleton and Warner are splitting their time in Charlotte between
National Journal’s newsroom in the convention center and
a public event space three blocks away.
The students are helping gather material for the Journal’s daily
website and weekly magazine, and they are contributing to a series
of public briefings presented by the Journal and its sister publication,
On Monday, for example, the two students helped coordinate a
roundtable discussion on the impact of social media that brought
together representatives from Twitter, Facebook and the Obama re-election
Across Charlotte, USC students are working on the front lines
to bring the story to the public. They are combining the best of
old and new journalism: They are digging deep to find good stories
and fresh angles, and they are presenting them across all media
platforms – on television, online, in print and on mobile
They are working 14-hour days and getting little sleep. But after
the convention’s first full day, Hicks seemed to capture
the attitude of the USC students: “I can’t wait to
get back to work.”