Achieving my dream of being a political reporter, one small step at a time

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(Ben Corda/The News-Star) Interviewing Rick Santorum!

I haven’t blogged in a little while and I think that can be attributed to the fact that this past month has been political season on the local and national level. Anybody that knows me personally can tell you how much I love politics. I watch presidential debates like sporting events and keep up with the numbers of every primary. I love election seasons! On a local level, I was given the opportunity to take charge of our political coverage for the mayoral election. I’ve had a good time profiling candidates, digging through financial contribution records, and shooting debates.

Louisiana’s GOP primary was also the same day as the mayoral elections. In the days leading up to election day, candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum visted our area here in North East Louisiana. I was so fortunate that I was the one chosen to cover these events. The last time I covered a presidential election was in college and I was relegated to the crowd with my hand held camcorder. This time with a media pass around my neck, I was able to stand with the national media on the risers. I felt like my dream of becoming a political news correspondent was coming true, even if it was just a for the moment.

Gingrich's Event at Louisiana Tech

At Gingrich’s first event at Louisiana Tech, I was determined to interview the candidate himself. I sought out his communications director and asked if I could have a couple minutes with the candidate. He nervously looked at his watch and told me they were running late. I smiled sweetly and said, “How about at his event in Monroe?” and he nodded and said he might be able to work something out. “Do you have a card?” he asked, I grimaced, “No, our station doesn’t give us business cards.” He smiled and said, “Just come find me at his next event.”

Woo! I could have jumped up and down geeking out with excitment, but I played it cool and thanked him. I rushed back to the station and ingested all of my footage and threw together a script of his event at Louisiana Tech. Then I went to assignment editor and begged him to be able to have a photographer to come with me to interview Gingrich. You see, at KNOE all reporters are one man banders, which means I get to lug around a 50 pound DVC Pro and tripod and shoot, report, edit, write, track, and front packages. I usually love one man banding, but in situations where you have to be quick on your feet, it is really tough work and the final product is not ideal. I was granted a photographer in this situation and we were off!

Posing like an intern waiting to interview Gingrich

Gingrich was speaking at the Atrium Hotel right up the street and when we arrived I scanned the lobby for the man I had spoken to earlier. No luck. So I went up to the national republican representative who put me in touch with someone who went to find who I was looking for. Finally, I saw Gingrich’s guy walking toward me telling me that I could have 3 minutes with the presidential candidate. Again, I almost geeked out, but acted like it didn’t phase me. I thanked him and asked if there was a way we could interview before the event, I made sure to smile sweetly again when asking this favor. He went to go ask and after several back and forth exchanges, we were granted permission and only KNOE was permitted to interview Gingrich. We were getting an exclusive with the former speaker! We were then ushered into a room where the secret service were guarding the doors and seemed to wait for nearly an hour. But it was cool because I got to chit chat with his communications guy and his media assistant.

Interviewing Newt Gingrich!

Finally, Gingrich walked in and shook my hand firmly and the interview began. I felt exactly in my element and asked him a handful of questions before he was whisked away to speak to his crowd. And because we had built a rapport with Gingrich’s people we were the only media outlet allowed to stand on the balcony above the whole event, so we could spray the event and then rush back to the station to turn it for our 5pm news.

It was such an incredible experience!
Here is the video for that:

Santorum's Rally in West Monroe

Later that week, Rick Santorum came into town and I was determined again to interview the candidate. So I spoke to his media person, but there was a lot more going on at his event, many more national media swarming and things were a bit chaotic. Santorum’s media person told me he would see what he could do, in the end I was told that he would address the local media for an “avail”–meaning a simpler version of a press conference. So our competitor KTVE and I stood waiting for him and by the time he got to us, he was in a hurry to get to his next event. So I asked him quickly how he liked Louisiana so far and he gave me a size able sound bite so I was happy. Santorum’s visit ended up capturing national attention because it was at a gun range and while he was firing off a pistol, a woman in the crowd shouted, “pretend it’s Obama!” and the national media went wild. Really…some people just don’t think before they open their mouths. The national media were talking about it so much that CBS requested my news package, which was so exciting because it was a first for me! So overall, this week has been a blast with my dream of becoming a political correspondent slowly becoming reality. If anything, this was darn good practice for what my future may hold!
Here is the Santorum video:

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One thought on “Achieving my dream of being a political reporter, one small step at a time

  1. Vicky, how exciting is that, you personally interviewing two republican presidential candidates and being asked for your story by CBS!!! I’m so excited for you. Just a personal note, wish it could have been Mitt Romney also. Love, Grandma

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