Tuesday night BUTV10 covered the US Presidential Election. The Vote 2016 was a collaboration between BUTV10, the Journalism Department, the Film and Television Department, BU News Service, WTBU, DC Study Abroad, and London Study Abroad. Students were all over the country reporting from inside the headquarters of presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, insides the headquarters of New Hampshire Senate candidates Maggie Hassan and Kelly Ayotte, and outside of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.. The whole show is the thesis project for journalism graduate student Natalie Robson.
We rehearsed for our two hour show for about a month leading up to Tuesday, but no rehearsal could prepare us for five hours straight of live coverage, three of which were unscripted. We had each bloc on the fly during commercial breaks. There were two anchors, a congressional reporter, an exit polls reporter, a social media reporter from BUNS, and an interviewer for us to integrate, and the five remote reporters. There was a delicate dance between calling states’ results and sticking to the plan we decided just minutes before. The most important thing is to be prepared and have back up plans. Sometimes Skype wouldn’t connect, so we would have to change the format, or a state would be called and we would have to cut out of a break early. It was hard work, but the support system around Natalie and myself allowed us to succeed.
The journalism and film and television professors were instrumental in the production. Their experience reporting and producing news really helped during crunch time. They were able to help us make informed decisions about what was next. The engineers in COM worked countless hours to hame sure the set and control room were ready for this huge production. We were lucky to have two important interview guests who have reported on elections in the past, mass communication professor John Carroll; and Pulitzer-prize winner, Dean Tom Fiedler of COM. We were also lucky enough to interview Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore.
The experience each student working on the election coverage got on Tuesday night is something very unique. No other university did the comprehensive coverage we had with all of our moving parts. This was honestly the most valuable experience I’ve had so far at Boston University. I was able to do Tuesday night essentially what professionals were doing, and I can take everything that I learned into the workplace after I graduate. I’m so grateful COM is full of professors and students willing to push the limits and try something we’ve never done before.