Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Young journalist finds place on News Team

Feb. 16, 2016

If someone told me I would be covering a national event as huge as a Democratic Debate this early in my journalism career, I would have laughed. Not because it’s unimaginable, but because opportunities like these don’t happen easily for 18-year-olds.   

Column by Emily Lepowski Assistant News Editor
Column by Emily Lepkowski
Assistant News Editor

I had no idea what to expect going into this event. There is definitely a level of intimidation and respect that comes with working alongside top professionals in journalism. People who have 20-plus years of experience versus me, a second-semester freshmen, in the same room.

As my other two staff members and I walked around to interview people, I wondered what we looked like to the professionals – three young kids in a room full of veteran journalists. Somehow, being dressed up in my business attire made me feel more confident. It probably helped us blend in a little more, too.

It was pretty cool to be around all of the professional camera and lighting equipment. I always imagined it would be a big production. It was. However, it was so much more real and humble. Looking around the room at everyone doing their stand-ups or scrambling to write an article made me feel like I was part of a community. Everyone was doing their own thing, looking for their own story to tell.

I saw reporters I’ve watched on my local news station for years and people from CNN, but we were all just people. There was a point in the night when Kimberly Wethal and I spoke with Sen. Tammy Baldwin for a few minutes. You would think that being a teenager in a room full of so many influential people would be extremely intimidating, but it was surprisingly the opposite. I felt an aura of respect emanating from everyone around me.

One of the biggest things I learned from the night was observing is just as powerful as doing. I think it is easy to underestimate how much you can learn from watching other people work. I was a sponge soaking up information in an environment that had so much to offer me.

I also experienced raw emotion from an interviewee for the first time. Our news team was doing an on-camera interview with a man from UW-M’s College Democrat organization on campus. During the interview, police made them move their table. It was the third time they had made them move their booth that night.

The man had no problem standing up for himself and voicing his opinion. Given that it was a spur-of-the moment incident that fueled his emotions, it was the first time I saw a real, honest reaction. I was able to witness his feelings as the situation unfolded before us.

Working alongside two of my fellow staff members, Andrew Eppen and Wethal, also made the night special. While they have more experience than me, it was their first major event as well, so we all took it in together. It also made me realize what a sense of camaraderie one gets in working professionally with a group of people.

After taking time to reflect on the night, I realized you can’t let fear or intimidation hold you back.  My journalism career has been a lot of diving right into the heart of everything. While it can be overwhelming, it is truly the best way to learn.   

Waking up the next day, I was legitimately sad that the experience was over. The thought of resuming my normal college life after an opportunity of that caliber is deflating, to say the least. I may not be enthused about going back to another week of math homework, but I do know one thing: I get to continue learning every day.      

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Founded 1901
Young journalist finds place on News Team