Sunday, September 9, 2012

Media Coverage in Campaigns: The Other Perspective


Kaitlyn Crist
kaitlyn.crist@gmail.com
@Kaitlyn_Crist

An Intriguing Proposition 

When my roommate (a campus organizer for the Obama campaign) told me to keep my Saturday open, but couldn’t tell me why, I was skeptical. 

 Email sent by the campaign announcing VP Biden's event
I soon found out the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, would be speaking IN the city of Athens. I was beyond excited; to see someone speaking to the world at a convention two days before I would see him in person is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 My roommate told me she had gotten me the opportunity to volunteer directly with the Campaign’s media department. I was ecstatic. I would have the opportunity to see how the media and campaigns directly interact.

Accommodating the Media  

When I arrived at the Athens Community Center, it was overwhelming. Secret Service was swarming, and there was airport-like security. 

I was ushered over to the press area for my training, and began to see the other side of the coin. The campaign was very sensitive to the press’ needs. The venue was very small, and they did their best to accommodate to the situation.
Riser set up for braodcast outlets 

 There was a large riser for video crews to set up beforehand, and a small set of stairs for photographers to get the perfect shot. They kept reiterating that they wanted to make everyone in the media feel comfortable. That we were there to guide them and get them what they needed.

 This was a very refreshing outlook. Many times, the media is an afterthought, or a burden to the public, and to see that they were being so highly accommodated by the campaign was nice. They kept using the phrase, “the media are people too,” which I think people forget sometimes. 

The only bothersome part was we were told that if we catch anyone trying to interview the public during the speech to ask them to stop because it’s disruptive. Though I understood why they would do this, I also understand how good a “in the moment” sound bite can be, and that obviously wasn’t possible.

Athens (Ohio) Becomes an International Name 

Before the event, I worked media check in. The system was intense. Long lists of media professionals and students alike, airport-like security checking every camera, and photo identification required for every single person who passed. 

Local and national media outlets were present, and I was a little star struck. National outlets like CNN, ABC News and Buzzfeed were all in attendance.

 For the campaign, this was standard procedure, but I could hardly believe that all of these people were covering our small community.

Vice President Joe Biden speaking at
the Athens Community Center 
Using the Media to Connect to the People 

During the actual speech, I stood with the photographers (mostly for the spectacular view). 

The campaign was great about letting the multitudes of photographers in good position to get that perfect shot.

 From the major outlets to the student media, everyone had an equal opportunity to get what they needed. It was surprisingly organized for such a tight space.

Vice President Biden interacts with community members 
I was so thankful I got to see the other side of media coverage in a campaign situation.

 It was a fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was great to see that those in the campaign were so helpful to the media. 

They understood we are the public liaison, and were sympathetic to every persons needs.


2 comments:

Morgan Lentes said...

Good stuff, Kaitlyn. As someone also trying to keep a blog, it's interesting to hear your perspective...especially on such an exciting topic!

Morgan Lentes said...

Good stuff Kaitlyn. For someone who is also trying desperately to keep up with a blog, I think it's interesting to get other journalists' perspective on current events...especially something as exciting as the VP's visit!