They say that hindsight is 20/20.
Going into our class trip into Columbia, South Carolina, I felt like an athlete preparing for the Olympic trials.
This being our second political event on location, I didn’t feel as green as I did in Iowa. Because of that, each move I made when we got to Columbia was calculated; each step I took was measured.
Packing my bag, I knew everything I brought had to be useful. No superfluous items allowed. However, while I didn’t feel like such a newbie, I did have a new emotion: anxiousness.
This time around, I wanted to try my hand at putting together a TV news piece, something I had never done before. An experience like this, where we get to travel and cover a primary from start to finish, doesn’t come around every day, so I knew I wanted to document it.
While exciting, this new endeavor definitely kept me on edge, anxious to avoid making mistakes at any cost. Partnered with my classmate, I couldn’t wait to land in Columbia and hit the ground running. But like the famous quote says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Having the freedom and power to tell the story through the camera was incredibly liberating but also added an enormous amount of pressure to make sure I reported on the primary impartially and accurately.
Herein lies the first lesson I learned: Reporting impartially comes at a personal cost.
I joined this class convinced that my personal opinions and beliefs wouldn’t cloud my reporting. That, unfortunately, wasn’t always the case.
In Iowa, there were plenty of moments where I walked dangerously on the line between reporter and fangirl. Definitely not where I was supposed to be.
Journalists are supposed to be able to detach themselves from what they are reporting on to give people news that is honest and unbiased. Looking back, I’m so glad I had the chance to redeem myself in South Carolina.
This time, I was able to check my opinions at the door and approach each campaign event with a level head to be able to find the story. After gathering all of our interviews and B-roll, editing, writing script and recording voiceovers was the next big hurdle.
In working on that, I learned the second greatest lesson: Don’t get discouraged when you make a mistake.
I am the definition of a perfectionist. Anytime I make a mistake, I immediately take it personally and see each misstep as a sign of weakness. Working on this project forced me to let that go.
Editors are there to help you, not hurt you. Every critique is designed to ensure your work is presented to the best of its ability, even if that means you have to start from scratch. I was incredibly lucky to have the support of Nader, my classmate/producer, and Suzanne, my teacher/editor, in order to push me to move past the mistakes I made in order to make the best piece possible.
These two major lessons are exactly what I need going into the Illinois primary. Having these two pieces of wisdom in my arsenal will be pivotal to covering the election that day.
Adding to the already amazing experiences I’ve had this semester, I’ve been given the opportunity to work in the NBC newsroom on March 15.
After being in both Iowa and South Carolina, I’m now ready to approach this incredible experience in the best possible way.
Illinois primary, here I come!