Two weeks in the life of the Editor of the Kids Press Corps
By Dante on September 21st, 2012
One of the things I love most about my job as the Editor of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps is that there is no normal day. I might have to set up an interview with a celebrity one day, then subtitle a video interview done in Japanese the next. Sure there are aspects of my job that are consistent — the email never stops, for example — but the only really predictable thing is the unpredictability.
This was especially true the last week of August and the first week of September when I accompanied Kid Reporters (along with another program editor) to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. (Check out the Kid Reporter’s coverage on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog!) The Kid Reporters had never attended a convention, and neither had I. My colleague Suzanne, who joined me in Tampa, was a veteran of previous conventions, and I relied on her insight. But I realized quickly that the only way to cover these kinds of things is to be ready for anything — and everything.
On the one hand, navigating the bureaucracy of picking up credential, accessing workspaces, getting to seats in the actual convention hall, and even finding a media contact to ask a question was a job unto itself. At both conventions, I spent a good amount of time running around looking for volunteers, staffers, offices, meeting rooms, and the like in order to get set up to start doing the job of covering these conventions. At the DNC, for example, we tried at least three entrances into the convention center before finally finding the right door. Then when we were inside, the process repeated itself as we bounced from room to room looking for the credential pick-up point. For as tempting as it was to pull my hair out in frustration, I learned at the RNC (confronting some of the same problems) that the only way to get through the convention was to go with the flow.
I also couldn’t dwell on the situation because there was reporting to be done! At both the RNC and DNC, there were potential stories everywhere you turned. Journalists to interview for tips on covering an election. Politicians to grill about the convention and the candidates. Delegates to talk to about who they support and why. Kids who were there with their parents. Tech companies helping connect the media and delegates to the social media world. And on and on and on. Sure, it was a bit overwhelming, but these are the kinds of environments journalists dream of being in. I do, anyway.
The Kid Reporters and their editors worked like mad covering as much as they could — and even then it was like trying to catch a waterfall in a thimble. For every story we pursued we had to let an innumerable number of others go. We hustled between convention centers and arenas, tracked down leads, pivoted from writing and editing to researching and interviewing at a moments notice, and — perhaps most importantly — foraged for anything edible to keep our energy up.
Our work days began at 8 a.m., if not earlier, and ended at midnight, if not later. In a normal circumstance we would be dead tired. But our adrenaline (and sugar consumption) keep us motoring through the three days at the RNC and two days at the DNC. And anyway, we were so busy we didn’t have time to dwell on how tired we might be. That came later, after the conventions were over and we were on airplanes or in cars back to our homes.
Once I got back to New York, my rush crashed hard. I spent my first post-convention weekend like I spend so many others, walking around Manhattan. It was a hot, Indian Summer couple of days. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and despite the humidity it was great weather. But I felt antsy and depressed that I didn’t have another story to file or interview to tape or speech to live-tweet. I was exhausted, for sure, but I wasn’t ready to let the experience go. But I knew I had to, and like at the conventions I reminded myself not to dwell on the end of the assignment — as my clogged inbox attested, there were plenty more that demanded my attention.
Photo: Kid Reporter Andrew Liang and Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Editor Dante A. Ciampaglia on the floor of the Democratic National Convention at the end of a long two days covering the DNC in Charlotte. (Kristen Joerger/Scholastic)
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