By James R. Carroll
Washington Bureau Chief
Capital News Service

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Oct. 31) – For reporters who cover politics and public affairs, the political conventions are coveted assignments, rare opportunities to witness and write about the spectacle of a national party gathering. Unfortunately, a lot of reporters don’t get the chance to experience a convention.

But Capital News Service last summer gave a group of undergraduate and graduate students that chance, sending two separate groups of reporters to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

In the days preceding and during the two conventions, CNS reporters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, aided by a group of colleagues in Knight Hall’s Studio C in College Park, produced dozens of stories on issues, Maryland political figures, various controversies, and interesting and quirky doings among party delegates.

In addition to CNS text stories and video packages (including some made with 360-degree cameras), reporters produced graphics, Facebook Live broadcasts, photos, assembled pieces on Storify, put video and photos on Snapchat, and tweeted hundreds of times on events and observations inside and outside the convention halls. Some of our CNS reporters also talked about their work and experiences in appearances on a local Fox television affiliate back in Washington and on C-Span.

We invite you to check out some of what we did on the CNS website.

Exciting and exhausting, convention coverage is challenging even for veteran journalists. (These were my 17th and 18thconsecutive conventions.) Our CNS teams dove right in like pros.

“Being a young reporter in the midst of the media is scary, but it’s also exhilarating,” CNS reporter Jessica Campisi wrote in a blog from the GOP convention. “Walking through the convention center, I’ve spotted reporters whom I’ve grown to know through their front-page stories or their morning newscasts on TV. While some people obsess over stars like Beyonce or Kim Kardashian, my celebrity crushes are known for scoops and winning Pulitzer Prizes. It’s slightly intimidating being next to them, but then I realize I’m just like them.”

Maggie Gottlieb wrote about her hectic days at the Democratic convention.

“If there is anything this experience taught me, it is that I am more knowledgeable, skillful and competent than I ever thought before I embarked on this journey,” she said. “My feelings of insecurity about working as a full-time broadcast reporter for CNS (this) semester have completely vanished. I learned to trust in myself, believe in my own abilities and take a leap of faith.”

Everybody came home with plenty of convention swag and souvenirs, but mostly with the tools to witness history and turn it into solid journalism.

(Carroll and broadcast lecturer Josh Davidsburg directed the coverage in Cleveland. Carroll and broadcast bureau director Sue Kopen Katcef oversaw the coverage in Philadelphia.)