Student journalists cover inauguration on campus, in capitalBy Steve Kloehn
From galas to scholarly panels, from elementary schools to diners to the teeming crowds on the Mall, undergraduate journalists from the University spread out through Chicago and Washington, D.C. last week to capture the historic events surrounding the inauguration of President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Day.
The coverage they provided was posted to the University’s Chicago Studies Web site (http://chicagostudies.uchicago.edu/inauguration.html), in a cooperative effort among the College, the Chicago Careers in Journalism program and the News Office.
The students’ stories captured a number of first-time events sponsored by the University, including a panel discussion of University faculty and alumni in Washington, D.C., who had inside stories of the Obama campaign; a special University presence at the State of Illinois inaugural ball, and a reception on inauguration day at the University’s new Washington offices, with a street-side view of the inaugural parade.
Students also captured events on campus, from the Martin Luther King Jr. Week Day of Service to an inauguration viewing at Mandel Hall, as well as a sampling of views from around Hyde Park and other South Side neighborhoods, where the historic events were marked in their own way.
Sara Jerome, a fourth-year student, won a writing contest sponsored by the Chicago Careers in Journalism program and the College, which funded her reporting trip to Washington. Photographer Chris Salata and Laurel Mylonas-Orwig, both fourth-years, joined her there.
Jerome said her reasons for wanting to go were the same as most every person she interviewed in Washington: She wanted to witness history.
“I do think having a grasp on what happened this weekend could be important for understanding most other stories I cover for the rest of my life,” she said.
She had plenty to witness, working straight through from Monday morning to Tuesday evening without stopping to sleep, and continuing to write on her plane ride home Wednesday. But in retrospect, she said she would not have traded the unique vantage point being a reporter gave her.
“It gave me an excuse to ask nosy questions that would’ve otherwise seemed intrusive, and I got a chance to really hear people’s stories and where they were coming from, which was fascinating. I interviewed a guy from Evanston who came to D.C. without tickets and ended up sitting closer to the action than Wesley Clark!” Jerome said.
“I literally spoke to hundreds of people, and I know I wouldn’t have done that if I weren’t reporting.”
In Chicago, the student-journalists included Katie Buitrago, Ella Christoph, Rachel Cromidas, Hannah Fine, Thalia Gigerenzer, Kelin Hall, Tal Kopan, Michael Lipkin, Claire McNear, Supriya Sinhababu, Arieh Smith, Cela Sutton, Juan-Pablo Velez and Chase Weldon.