Tag Archives: Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Covering #Election2016 from London for CNS

Maggie and Mina

CNS reporters Maggie Gottlieb and Mina Haq in England.

By Maggie Gottlieb ’17
Broadcast Journalism Major

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 16) – Just a month before America’s fateful electoral day came, Merrill College’s Capital News Service reporters received some exciting news of their own.

“We’re sending two CNS reporters to London for Election Day to cover overseas reaction,” Broadcast Bureau Chief Sue Kopen Katcef told her students after Maryland Newsline one night.

I was practically jumping up and down in excitement.

I’ve been covering this election at various internships since the very first campaign announcements back in the spring of 2015. Vividly, I remember being at my internship at CNN Newsource when we heard over the scanner that Donald Trump would soon hold a press conference “regarding the 2016 presidential election.”

As a budding journalist, every moment since has been riveting, historic and perhaps a tad disturbing. I spent a week in Philadelphia last summer covering the Democratic National Convention for CNS. We witnessed the first woman be nominated for president of a major party, even amidst reports of collusion with the DNC and a walk-out by angry Bernie Sanders supporters. Just one week prior, America saw the divisive nomination of Donald Trump despite RNC delegates’ feeble attempts at a contested convention.

The America in the months since the party conventions has been one of tension and divisiveness. But it wasn’t just America who was watching on Election Day.

Merrill student Mina Haq working on a story for CNS.

CNS reporter Mina Haq works on deadline.

Off to London

As our plane took off to London just a few days before the election, we looked back at the nation’s capital below us, thinking the next time we stepped on American soil, our country would have elected its first woman president. We were wrong, much like most of the media industry and many American voters.

We arrived on Sunday tired but incredibly excited for the week ahead. Our friends at Bournemouth University, the partnership that enabled the reporter swap, picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel near The Eye (thank goodness they did because the London tube system is ridiculously convoluted). After dropping off our bags, we hit the ground running and started interviewing people on the street about their thoughts on the U.S. election. Most were troubled by candidate Donald Trump, but also weary of Clinton because of her email scandal.

While exploring the city that day, we stumbled upon a U.S. election pop up shop in a random tube station. I was so excited because it was the perfect engaging news peg into my story on UK reaction to the candidates.

file_000On Sunday evening, Mina and I met up with some of my Salzburg Academy study abroad friends for dinner near Oxford Street, where the Christmas lights had just been turned on that night. It was a great to walk down such a beautiful city street and forget about the stress of the election for a night.

Monday morning, we interviewed an expert on Brexit to hear her insights into Trump-Brexit comparisons. Then, we wandered back to the tube station pop up shop, which had just opened for business that day. They had a fake voting booth, facetious t-shirts about the candidates, donuts decorated as Clinton and Trump and America themed music. Most we talked to there said they didn’t like either candidate and were glad they weren’t voting citizens who actually had to choose.

We took the train down to Bournemouth to meet with our colleagues at BU, help with their election night rehearsal and see some more of the country! It’s a beautiful beachside college town and it was nice to get out of the craziness of the city for a night. Tuesday morning it was back to London for Election Day and our nerves were off the walls.

Election 2016 and the American Embassy


CNS reporter Maggie Gottlieb records her standup at the U.S. Embassy election night party.

Our assignment Tuesday night was to report from the American embassy in London at its election night watch party. On the tube ride to the embassy, Mina and I couldn’t contain our excitement that we’d finally see who America would choose. Still, we were sure that the next day America would have elected its first female president.

It was exciting to be among other Americans as well as Brits that evening, even when so far away from home. It was 1 a.m. London-time when polls closed here in Maryland and quickly we started to see that Trump was leading in some key swing states. I recorded hourly “look-lives” for Maryland Newsline’s live updates. Most in the embassy were Clinton supporters so the atmosphere was one of anxiety, but hopeful optimism. When Trump won Florida, Mina and I knew where this was heading.

By 3 a.m., most party guests had filed out of the media center, some to head home, some to commiserate elsewhere. We noticed three lone Trump supporters milling about, no doubt to make themselves available for interviews. Around when they called Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin for Trump, the embassy asked media the start packing up. It certainly felt a lot like, ‘our candidate is losing, nothing to see here!’

When we got outside, it was pouring rain. We mused to ourselves that the weather reflected the emotions of our friends back home and the embassy guests. We got home at 5:30 a.m. and Pennsylvania still hadn’t been called. I was too exhausted to wait for the overall call, so I went to sleep feeling confused and anxious.

ELECTION NIGHT: Europeans keep close watch on American presidential election – by Maggie Gottlieb
First Brexit, now Trump: the British feel new political quake
– By Mina Haq

The Day After

The London Eye.Wednesday morning, we woke up and immediately felt a million emotions as we read our friends and families’ social media posts about Trump’s victory. It was a result that shocked the world, with most in our east coast circle feeling scared, hurt and angry. We headed out to get Londoners reactions, which were quite different than those at home. The general consensus was ‘shocked but not surprised.’ Many said this result was just like the UK’s Brexit and we’d just have to wait and see what kind of president Trump will be.

After we filed our stories, we got to ride the London Eye and walk around Big Ben. It was a much-needed break from all of the negativity surrounding the election results.

Time To Go Home

We headed to the airport Thursday – but didn’t feel much like coming home. The week since has been a roller coaster of emotions, especially with a lot of talk of how President-elect Trump could restrict reporters’ rights. But in the wise words of Merrill Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag, “When you have been jolted, you have to figure out how to get up and start moving forward again.” And as a journalist, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Thank you to Merrill College and the CNS bureau chiefs for giving us this amazing overseas reporting opportunity. Despite the over-zealous speculation about what Trump’s presidency will look like, I’m incredibly excited to graduate in May and begin my professional journalism career covering his administration. It may not have been the result we expected, but that’s what makes this business so exhilarating. It’s time to get back to work.

Note: Maggie and Mina were interviewed on Fox5-DC after they returned, to talk about their experiences covering the election in London.

Photos: Maggie Gottlieb and Mina Haq.

A montage from London and a shot of Maggie and Mina at Fox5 after they were interviewed about their experiences in London.

Povich Center Presents Lacy-Smith, Distinguished Terrapin Awards

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 16) – The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism honored former New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden with this year’s Lacy-Smith Award. Named for two pioneering African-American sports journalists, Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith, Rhoden is the third winner of the prestigious award. Previous winners were James Brown (2015) and Claire Smith (2014).

The award is just one of many presented during this year’s Povich Center Awards Luncheon Wednesday. The event is traditionally held the afternoon prior to the Povich Symposium.

Other award winners include:

  • Susan Fornoff ’79 and Jimmy Roberts ’79 are this year’s “Distinguished Terrapin” award winners.
  • Alan Bubes and Brit Kirwan – Special Recognition
  • Monica McNutt – Rising Star

The Povich Center also recognized four “All-Star Students” including Justin Meyer, Michael Stern, Kofie Yeboah and Callie Caplan.

Maury Povich with Bill Rhoden and George Solomon.

Maury Povich with Bill Rhoden and George Solomon.

Lacy-Smith Award Winner
Bill Rhoden, who retired from The Times this past July, spent a career writing about race, inclusion and justice, just as the late sportswriters Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith, for whom the award is named.

  • After growing up in Chicago, Rhoden attended and graduated from Morgan State University in Baltimore, went to work at the Baltimore Afro-American where he was mentored by Sam Lacy, the newspaper’s sports editor.
  • He later worked four years at Ebony Magazine and three years at The Baltimore Sun before joining The New York Times in 1981 as a copy editor on the Sunday Week in Review section.
  • Rhoden has also written a number of books, including the widely acclaimed “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete” and accumulated countless television and film credits.

Watch the video. Introduction by Maury Povich:



Special Recognition

Kevin Blackistone with Brit Kirwan and George Solomon.

Kevin Blackistone with Brit Kirwan and George Solomon.

Brit Kirwan is a nationally recognized authority on critical issues shaping the higher education landscape. Prior to his 13 years as chancellor of the University System of Maryland, Kirwan served as president of Ohio State University for four years and president of the University of Maryland, College Park for 10 years.

  • He was also a member of the University of Maryland faculty for 24 years. Kirwan chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce and co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • He also serves on the Business-Higher Education Forum. He is a member of the boards of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Greater Baltimore Committee, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, and other organizations.
  • Kirwan received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Kentucky and his master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Alan Bubes with Maury Povich.

Alan Bubes with Maury Povich.

Alan Bubes is a native Washingtonian. Alan attended High School at Sidwell Friends and received a B.S. from Georgia Tech. He has spent the last 30 years as President and CEO of Linens of the Week, one of the largest Linen Suppliers to the Food Service Industry in the country until the recent sale of his business.

  • Bubes is a lifelong follower of sports in the Washington area, where he has been an avid fan and supporter. Alan is active in many charities with a special interest in sports, education and children in the city.
  • He also is a supporter of the Landon School, St. Andrew’s School, the Lab School where his three children Nathan, Elizabeth and Andrew attended.
  • Alan is married to Nancy Taylor Bubes, a well-known community leader and realtor in the Washington D.C. area. He supports the Shirley Povich Sports Journalism Summer Camp.

Distinguished Terrapins

Susan Fornoff ’79 with Emeritus Professor Maureen Beasley.

Susan Fornoff ’79 with Emeritus Professor Maureen Beasley.

Susan Fornoff ’79 started her illustrious sports journalism career as sports editor of The Diamondback. She then worked at the Baltimore News American and was part of the original sports staff at USA Today until1985. She was hired by the Sacramento Bee to cover the Oakland A’s.

  • In 1986, she became known as “The Rat Lady” after a player sent her a gift-wrapped rat to bring attention to what he considered to be the injustice of women entering the clubhouse; that backfired, ultimately costing him his job and motivating her to join three other women sportswriters in forming the Association for Women in Sports Media in 1987.
  • The baseball writing experience inspired her to write a memoir called “Lady in the Locker Room. After the success of the book she went on to work in media relations for World Cup Soccer, the San Francisco Examiner and then Chronicle  as news copy desk editor, sports copy desk editor, golf writer, real estate section staffer, features copy editor, home-and-garden reporter, general feature writer, and, finally, travel editor.
  • In 2010, she founded GottaGoGolf as a media company for women who play golf for fun. She lives in Littleton, Colo. where she offers writing services, content marketing, thought leadership and custom publishing for PR professionals.

Sue Kopen Katcef with Jimmy Roberts ’79 and George Solomon.

Jimmy Roberts ’79 began his journalism career as a writer for his high school newspaper and later graduated from the University of Maryland. Roberts is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and writer known most recently for his work on NBC and Golf Channel as an essayist, interviewer, feature reporter and studio host.

  • He is a fixture on NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage of the PGA TOUR and other high-profile golf events, including the Ryder Cup. Roberts joined NBC Sports Group in May 2000 after a long career at ABC and ESPN in which he won 11 Sports Emmy Awards.
  • In 2009, Harper Collins published Roberts’ first book, Breaking the Slump, which deals with how some of the best golfers to ever play the game dug themselves out of dry spells.
  • Roberts served as an Olympic correspondent during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Rio was his 16th Olympic assignment. He lives in the New York area with his wife, Sandra, and their three sons.

Past award winners are

Bonnie Bernstein (Campus Insiders Vice President of Content and Brand Development), Scott Van Pelt (ESPN commentator and Reporter), Tim Brant (WJLA-TV Vice President of Sports), Christy Winters-Scott (former Maryland women’s basketball player and Big Ten Network, Washington Mystics and Wizards analyst), Chick Hernandez (Anchor/Reporter/Host Comcast SportsNet/NBC Sports), Tina Cervasio (Sports Broadcaster) and Ike Richman (Vice President of Public Relations at Comcast Spectacor).

George Solomon with Monica McNutt.

George Solomon with Monica McNutt M.J. ’13.

Rising Star

Monica McNutt M.J. ’13 of The American Sports Network is the 2016 “Rising Star” awardee, an award created by the Povich Center to honor a young alum who is progressing and succeeding in the sports journalism field.

  • McNutt is the second recipient of the award. McNutt, a native of the DMV area, started her journalism career while an undergraduate at Georgetown University writing a blog for The Washington Post on life as a student-athlete.
  • After her stellar basketball career at Georgetown ended, she decided to pursue journalism full-time and enrolled in the Master’s program at Philip Merrill College.
  • After graduating in 2013, McNutt was a sports reporter for News Chanel 8 in Washington D.C. covering local sports. She is now a reporter/anchor for the American Sports Network located in West Palm Beach, Florida.


All-Star Students

Merrill students Justin Meyer, Kofi Yeboa, Michael Stern, Callie Caplan.

Merrill students Justin Meyer ’17, Kofi Yeboa ’17, Michael Stern ’17 and Callie Caplan’17.


Callie Caplan ’17 spent her time at Merrill College working her way up the ranks at The Diamondback, Maryland’s independent student-newspaper. During her senior year, Caplan is both a sports editor and a senior staff writer. She was the recipient of the AWSM internship in the Summer of 2016 when she worked at USA Today. She also covers high school sports for The Washington Post.

Justin Meyer ’17 is the Editor in Chief of The Left Bench the co-business director as well as a broadcaster of WUMC Sports. He has written for The Columbus Dispatch and Testudo Times.

Michael Stern ’17 is the Business Director of the Left Bench and the Sports Director of WUMC Sports. He is also a multimedia reporter for the Capital News Service. He has previously worked for USA Today, NBC News and WTOP.

Kofie Yeboa’ 17 is the Director of Personnel at The Left Bench, an assistant editor at ESPN’s The Undefeated. He has previously written for The Huffington Post, USA Today Sports and ESPNU and interned at D.C. United.

Beth Mechum

About the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism:

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism is based at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. The Povich Center is a resource for journalists, academics and the public who want to explore the complex role of sports in society. The Center is led by its director, George Solomon, who was assistant managing editor for sports at the Washington Post from 1975-2003.

Dana Priest: Eight Steps Reporters Should Take Before Trump Assumes Office

Knight Chair and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dana Priest.

Photo: Dana Priest.

By Knight Chair Dana Priest.
Reprinted with permission by the Columbia Journalism Review.
Originally published Nov. 14, 2016.

I was on the phone the other day with a senior US official, someone not usually eager to talk to a reporter, when the following conversation occurred:

“Is the FBI likely to follow up on tips that Trump might have some dubious connections to Russia now that he’s been elected?” I asked.

“If they hadn’t begun a serious investigation before the election,” the official responded, “it’s not likely now – unless something were to occur.”

“What do you mean by, ‘something were to occur?'”

“Well, that’s where you all come in.”

Wham! Of course.

With the two houses of Congress controlled by Republicans and a Democratic party in chaos, of course it falls on the shoulders of journalists to deepen the solid investigative work begun during the campaign.

Related: Journalism’s moment of reckoning has arrived.

The new president may merit a brief honeymoon in governing while he figures out what his policies will be and how he will implement them. But we should not wait one nanosecond to lay out the unprecedented set of conflicts of interests he and his family bring to the presidency, to compare his campaign rhetoric with his post-election decisions, and to chronicle post-election moves made by state and local governments where authorities may feel emboldened to push the boundaries of their power and our laws.

While we are dutifully reporting on the presidential transition, we should also dig out our helmets and flack jackets, harden our legal defenses, and get ready for the coming war on transparency. Here are eight steps to take immediately:

Rebuild sources: Call every source you’ve ever had who is either still in government or still connected to those who are. Touch base, renew old connections, and remind folks that you’re all ears.

Join forces: Triangulate tips and sources across the newsroom, like we did after 9/11, when reporting became more difficult.

Make outside partnerships: Reporting organizations outside your own newspaper, especially those abroad and with international reach, can help uncover the moves being considered and implemented in foreign countries.

Discover the first family: Now part of the White House team, Donald Trump’s children and son-in-law are an important target for deep-dive reporting into their own financial holdings and their professional and personal records.

Renew the hunt: Find those tax filings!

Out disinformation: Find a way to take on the many false news sites that now hold a destructive sway over some Americans.

Create a war chest: Donate and persuade your news organization to donate large sums to legal defense organizations preparing to jump in with legal challenges the moment Trump moves against access, or worse. The two groups that come to mind are the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Civil Liberties Union. Encourage your senior editors to get ready for the inevitable, quickly.

Be grateful: Celebrate your freedom to do hard-hitting, illuminating work by doing much more of it.

Dana Priest is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning national security reporter at The Washington Post and the John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Maryland’s journalism school. She is the co-founder of PressUncuffed.org, an organization promoting student research and journalism on press freedom issues and working to free imprisoned journalists abroad.

Merrill College Remembers: Gwen Ifill

Merrill College remembers Gwen Ifill.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 14) – Merrill College faculty reacted with sadness to the news that “PBS NewsHour” Co-Anchor Gwen Ifill died today at the age of 61.

Ifill, who had worked as a print reporter for Baltimore’s Evening Sun, The Washington Post and The New York Times before moving into broadcast journalism, served for more than six years as an active and engaged member of the College’s Board of Visitors starting in 2001. It was a particularly important time in the College’s history as it expanded its programs and embarked on the construction of a new building. Ifill was the featured speaker at the fall 2001 commencement exercise.

“Gwen Ifill gave generously of her time to Merrill College and was an incredible role model for our students – particularly our women broadcasters,” said Dean Lucy Dalglish. “We send our condolences to her family and colleagues at the NewsHour.”

Former Dean Tom Kunkel – currently the president of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin – said, “Gwen Ifill has been a national treasure for a long, long time. But those of us at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism felt a special kinship with her because she was gracious enough to serve on our Board of Visitors. She was a wonderful role model for our students in every conceivable way.  Hers is a huge loss to everyone who cares about journalism…and America.”

Merrill College faculty members who worked with Ifill, one of the country’s most respected African-American female journalists, remember her fondly.

Sandy Banisky, the college’s Abell professor in Baltimore Journalism, was a long-time friend of Ifill’s going back to their Baltimore Sun days. Banisky worked on the Morning Sun, Ifill on the Evening Sun.

“She was a wonderful competitor,” Banisky said.  “Gwen was smart and funny and warm and generous. It was a joy to work with her. No matter the event, her story always had depth, perspective and context.”

Sue Kopen Katcef, the college’s Capital News Service broadcast bureau director, said she met Ifill when they were young reporters in Baltimore. “Gwen was smart, talented and a great reporter. She was fun–and funny. In many ways, she carved new paths and served as a terrific role model–especially for young women. Her death is a huge loss for both her personal family and for those of us in the world of journalism.”

Povich Sports Center Director George Solomon worked at The Washington Post with Ifill. “I had the pleasure of working for years with Gwen Ifill at The Washington Post,” Solomon said. “She was the consummate professional and a wonderful person. Her success in television was extraordinary but not surprising to people who knew her ability and work ethic. Her passing is shocking and tragic.”

Storify Tells the Tale of Merrill College and #Election2016

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 11) – Merrill College students know they will receive real-world, hands-on experiences in journalism starting as freshmen. #Election2016 and its aftermath has – and will – provide those experiences at many different levels, from classroom to election night, the inauguration and beyond.

Teamwork Makes a Difference at Merrill

Dean Lucy Dalglish, writing to Merrill College alumni and friends, said, “We frequently tell prospective students that Merrill graduates leave UMD prepared to walk right into today’s newsrooms. That’s because – in addition to teaching foundational and technical skills – we stress teamwork. Tuesday night’s once-every-four-years opportunity illustrated the best in Merrill teamwork. By my count (for purposes of pizza calculations, if nothing else), we had at least 75 students working the election.”

CNS coverage included:

  • Michael Stern and Michelle Chavez anchored some of the CNS election night broadcasts.

    Merrill journalists Michael Stern and Michelle Chavez shared anchor duties with other CNS journalists during election night broadcasts. Photo: CNS

    CNS-TV live from the Eaton Broadcast Center in Tawes Hall throughout the evening, with live reports from Studio C in Knight Hall and from the Maryland Republican and Democratic headquarters. Our students even produced their own election night animated graphics.

  • The CNS Annapolis and DC Bureaus were based out of Studio C producing text stories for affiliates around the state and, via AP and McClatchy, the nation
  • The Digital Lab in Knight Hall produced a Facebook Live feed and provided data visualizations for our broadcast and digital efforts.
  • More than three dozen student production volunteers helped make everything “behind the scenes” work a little easier. That included students from Josh Davidsburg’s and Manny Fantis’ JOUR361 classes.
  • Three exchange students from Bournemouth University came to Knight Hall to cover the election as “Team USA.”
  • Two Merrill College students – Maggie Gottlieb and Mina Haq – traveled to London to talk with Brits and American ex-pats about the election, and they were even invited to the American ambassador’s election party at the U.S. Embassy.

Beyond CNS, many more Merrill students got great hands-on learning experiences:

  • Students from Lecturer Bethany Swain’s JOUR262 and Viewfinder classes provided support for live interviews and reports from the roof at Mobile Video Services (MVS) in downtown Washington, D.C.
  • Students from Abell Professor Sandy Banisky’s classes worked the election at the Baltimore Sun.
  • A number of Merrill students worked election night as part of their internships.

Digital Bureau Director Sean Mussenden working with students in Studio C on election night. Photo: Chris Harvey.

In her note to alumni and friends, Dean Dalglish said, “We thank our donors, particularly the Richard Eaton Foundation and the Merrill Family Foundation, for the financial support that has allowed us to upgrade our facilities and programs — and allowed our students to produce nimble and professional coverage. It was those upgrades that allowed us to go live from multiple locations and allowed a few of our enterprising students to redesign the graphics on our newscast.”

She also thanked all the faculty and staff members who, “worked together so that our students could have an unparalleled election night experience. Thank you to Sue Kopen Katcef, Jim Carroll, Sean Mussenden, Karen Denny, Brooke Auxier, Tom Bettag, Cindy Wright, Josh Davidsburg, Jon Sham, Chris Harvey, April Newton, Al Perry and Dave Ottalini. (And some faculty members I’m undoubtedly leaving out. Apologies.)”

“I hope you’re as proud as I am of Merrill College,” she wrote. “It has been a privilege to watch the newest generation of political reporters cover their first election.”

Our Storify brings together Merrill College student’s coverage of #Election2016 starting with early voting and moving through election night: