When signing up for this Jan Term trip I knew that we would be in D.C. during the Presidential Inauguration, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be reporting live from the event.
Last summer I interned with KXLY Newsradio 920 and it later turned into my job as a Social Multimedia Journalist in August. When my bosses found out that I would be at the Presidential Inauguration of course they wanted to take the opportunity to expand their coverage on the event. Due to time restraints I was only able to get credentials for the Newseum balcony for the parade and the National Mall press pass. Even with those credentials I had to provide all of my information for a background check.
I learned so much about journalism during the Inauguration. Below are some of the lessons I took away.
1. The Secret Service means business.
Living in Spokane I was used to showing my KXLY badge and charming my way into places no problem. However, when you are dealing with the President it is definitely going to take more than a nice smile to get you anywhere. If you do not have the right badge or credentials, they are not letting you through. The badge may work in the city on any other normal day, but on Inauguration Day you need the special credentials.
One thing that was interesting from interacting with Secret Service is that they really are not scary at all. Movies always depict the Secret Service as being an ominous entity, but they were very helpful and kind as I was trying to find my way past the security barriers.
2. Adaptability is the only way you will make it.
In order to even cover an event as massive and high security as the Inauguration you have to be flexible. I was directed to four different security check points before I actually got to the one that I was supposed to be at. I was not the only one from the media having this issue, which brought some comfort. In the end I made it through security just fine and was on my way. This process took me a little over three hours, but remaining calm and not stressed out really was the key.
3. The media area may not be the best area for your story.
The area I had access to was the balcony on the Newseum for the parade. This spot would have given me a really good vantage point for photos and the inauguration. However, when I was in the Newseum, quickly after my first radio hit I realized this was not where I actually wanted to be. I wanted to feel the energy of the crowd and hear what people were talking about. At this point I found a spot along the parade route and talked to people about their stories, which provided me with excellent content for my radio hits. I was able to tell the stories of people who traveled from all over the United States and the World to come to President Obama’s Inauguration.
4. You will survive
At this point in my journalistic career I had never reported live from an event. My normal spot on our morning news show is just two quick stories called “What’s Trending Now.” These stories are just basically what people are talking about on the internet and what is viral. The program director and anchor of our morning news show decided he wanted to do a live hit with me every half hour throughout our show. This terrified me. I was so scared that I was going to mess up, not sound newsy enough or just would not know what I am doing. My experience writing news, looking for news and doing news on social media equipped me just fine. I was able to give the anchors reports of what I was seeing around me and when I got into the swing of things it was not scary at all. If you take what you know and apply it to what you are doing, everything is just fine.
Wrapping it up…
Going to President Obama’s Inauguration was amazing. I was so glad to be there and be part of the history being made. Also- My first live event reporting experience was the Presidential Inauguration! That is incredible in itself and crazy. Not many people can say that an event so massive as that was their first live reporting event.
Lastly, the Inauguration made me so proud to be a journalist. People do not often give journalists enough credit. It is hard work, long hours, early mornings and late nights. Without a doubt I can say that I LOVE IT. I love the adrenaline. I love finding the captivating angle for a story, even if that means getting pretty creative for how you are going to get that story. I love being in the action of things. If anything the Presidential Inauguration strengthened my love for the media and solidified that I have chosen the career path where I am supposed to be.