Being part of history

Duty Editor Morgan Guess-Williams reflects on the pressure and pleasure of running the Clinton Event live blogging team…

As soon as I saw the email, I knew I had to jump onto the opportunity. That email was about an upcoming event where the Clintons themselves would be coming to the university – and I could be there to cover the whole thing in the background. I wasted no time in putting myself forward to be a part of this experience.

This was certainly the biggest story that I’ve covered. I’ve written about many things: war, politics, guides, but those are nothing compared to what I would be doing. Not only was a Secretary of State and a 2016 Presidential candidate coming here, but her husband, the 42nd President of the United States, was coming too.

I’ve learned a lot about news values and the importance of the elite and nations in making a story newsworthy over the years. However, it was surprising to see that not many major publications were catching onto the ‘eliteness’ of this story. There was, and still is, barely any coverage of this event from the major broadcasters and publications here in the UK, and it’s strange that there was minimal coverage considering what was discussed at the event in regard to the current Israel/Gaza war.

Did that mean that we would be the ones who would cover the story? If so, that left us with a huge responsibility. We had to do what the major publications didn’t do. It was a daunting task ahead of us.

I was part of the ‘documentary and coverage’ team alongside my colleagues Winner, Patrick and Gbenga. As a team, we had to plan ahead and make an action plan as to how this event was going to be covered. This legitimately felt like the real thing. This to me was something similar to what you would see in a conference room at the offices of News Corp or Broadcasting House.

Together we came up with the idea of doing live blogging of the event, as it’s an excellent way to report the news concisely and quickly as the event played out. I decided to manage this, as I think I’ve had the hang of having an eye and an ear for finding things that were newsworthy, something of which you need to have when you live blog an event like this.

In the meantime, Winner and Patrick did an excellent job in doing ‘vox pops’ with students outside of Fulton and the Technium, which would be part of a documentary that the department would make. I’m not very good with a camera and I’m VERY camera shy, so I opted out of doing this. You probably won’t see me on TV anytime soon (sorry Mum!).

Finally, the day came and it was time to put our plans into progress. Heading into the Live Media Hub an hour or so before the event started, I got to work thinking about how we could start off this live coverage. I wrote a short blog post and had that published before the event. I warned Richard beforehand that he might get a ton of emails from me as the event went on, as that would be how I would be relaying information on the fly.

Surviving and thriving from the desk!

As Winner and Patrick went out to do their vox pops, it wasn’t long before the event finally started.

The next hour and a half or so was a blur to me. Before I knew it, it was over. I barely had time to think in the now, as my mind and attention was entirely focused on the event and trying to find something newsworthy that the speakers had said, trying to put it in something that was quotable.

You might think that this was a stressful situation, but surprisingly, it wasn’t. It’s actually quite therapeutic to live blog an event as its happening. It’s good for getting your mind off things, getting you to concentrate on a singular thing for an extended period of time.

When the event was over, it took a little bit of time for the experience to sink in for me. I just did something new, I felt like I’d just done the real thing. I felt a bit like a real editor of a news company. This wasn’t an assignment or a simple story about things that have already been talked about extensively via other reports, videos or books: this was something new that was of extreme importance to the university, that no major publication had covered. I felt like I was breaking the story myself. I felt like a real journalist.

The amazing documentary team

This experience was amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. A massive thank you to both them and to the Media department for this awesome opportunity.