Journalism students cover DNC: “This is history; we’re writing it”

“This is history; we’re writing it” was among The Charlotte Observer’s words of wisdom for seven UNC-Chapel Hill journalism students who covered the Democratic National Convention.

The students from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication spent nine days in Charlotte, preparing for their roles and then doing their jobs.

Before the convention began, the Observer introduced some of its interns through personal essays about their hometowns. The students were Melissa Abbey, Alex Barinka, Florence Bryan, Mike Chance, Jessica Kennedy, Justin Mayhew and Kelley Sousa.

The students worked on the paper’s social media team, produced many of the stories on the @Charlotte blog and covered the convention delegates.

“Three on the delegate team had to find delegates and interview them. They were very busy,” said Jen Rothacker, innovations editor at The Observer. “I worked with the students on the social media team, and we all saw the power of social media. They were impressed with what we as a newspaper could do to tell the story of the convention.”

The Observer supplied the interns with instructions and guidance, complete with maps and contact information to help them work efficiently. Besides the “this is history” exhortation, the instructions ended with the advice to “drink it all in.”

That’s what senior journalism major Jessica Kennedy did, and she describes it below:

“I worked with the social media team at The Charlotte Observer covering the 2012 Democratic National Convention. I was invited to participate by Ferrel Guillory, a UNC journalism professor. I do not work at Reese News (as other interns do), but I’ve worked for The Daily Tar Heel and done internships with High Country Press, The Asheville Citizen-Times and Appalachian Voices.

Working with the social media team was a whirlwind and a deeply educational experience. I was one of three social media interns working with four full-time staff this week. We took care of everything social media with a definite focus on Twitter. From Twitter, we pulled Tweets to create Storify pages, wrote blogs about what people were saying, retweeted news from citizens and other news sources, and got our news stories out to the Twitter-sphere. Twitter has been called “the” medium of the 2012 election, and we definitely saw that play out on the social media team.

Being at the DNC was an incredible experience. Not only was the energy electric both inside the newsroom and in the convention center and arena, but it was a week in history that I was so thankful to be a part of. As one of The Observer’s reporters told me during the week, “It’s the best and the worst of journalism.” The hours were long and the coverage was exhausting, but it was thrilling and a really cool challenge to try to convey what it felt like to be in Charlotte for the convention.”
 

Published September 7, 2012.