Covering the DNC as a student journalist

Sep 12 2012

When a UNC journalism school faculty member asked me if I’d be interested in going to Charlotte the first week of September to help The Charlotte Observer cover the Democratic National Convention, I believe my response was something to the effect of: “Um, duh.”

I have to admit, when I later found out I’d been assigned to The Charlotte Observer’s social media team, I was a bit disappointed. (But I’m a reporter! Why wasn’t I chosen for the reporting team? I want clips!)

But I did report — sometimes information no one else had yet — all through Twitter.

Take a look at some of the reporting I did from Twitter, social media team style:

[View the story “Reporting with Twitter” on Storify]

I also got pictures and basic information whenever I came upon interesting characters in the streets — like circus performers or a pair of jugglers at CarolinaFest, Brass Connection playing on the corner of Trade and Tryon or sidewalk singer Nao Barber serenading the passersby.

A social media team member in the office would retweet my reporting from the Observer’s account or use the information to help writers formulate a written story.

So what if I didn’t come away with traditional clips? I have those. I learned — hands on — just how important Twitter is for news gathering. I learned how to use Storify to show how a protest unfolded or illustrate audience reactions to speeches. I learned to think in real-time, not I’ll-write-it-later time. I learned how to squeeze news into 140 characters or less.

And for a journalist entering the industry in the heat of the social media revolution, those are marketable skills.

Read more on What I learned about social media as a storytelling tool and, sometimes, as the story.


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