White House Reporter Talks with Students about Covering President Trump

Matthew Nussbaum, a White House reporter for Politico, spoke to students in The Publishing Industry class. (Photo: Carly Mathes)

By Carly Mathes

What is it like to be a White House reporter covering President Donald Trump?

“It’s been this insane stretch since January,” said Matthew Nussbaum, a reporter for Politico, who was a guest speaker in The Publishing Industry class at Rowan University. “The Trump coverage has been all encompassing.”

Nussbaum talked to students about the challenges of the 24/7 news cycle, being banned from Trump campaign events, and the stress of covering a president who can break news at any moment on his Twitter account.

“It’s the story of the century, and it’s not going away,” he said.

Nussbaum, a native of Haddonfield, NJ, started his professional career with a summer internship at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, where he said he learned the fundamentals of reporting. After graduating from Yale University with a degree in history, he went on to intern at the Denver Post, where he covered two death penalty cases. After a short stint as a suburban reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico hired Nussbaum to cover the federal budget, a subject he admits he didn’t know much about. But he said that Capitol Hill is a great place for a young reporter to learn.

“The First Amendment is a great thing,” he said. “You can walk up to anyone and shove your iPhone in their face.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Nussbaum covered the debates and primaries, then traveled with Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence on the campaign trail. On November 8, when Donald Trump was elected president, Nussbaum said he was “as surprised as everyone else, even though I was covering it.”

Nussbaum told students that he believes young reporters have an advantage in the news business because they are open to technology and “knowing how to take pictures on your phone, as basic as it is, is really important.”

“Have an optimistic outlook on this industry, even if it seems like the numbers aren’t adding up right now,” he said. “Be willing to get out there. There is a lot of opportunity for young people who are hungry and willing to work a lot of hours.”

The Whit Wins Five New Jersey Collegiate Press Awards

The Whit, Rowan University’s student newspaper and website, won five awards in the 2016-2017 New Jersey Collegiate Press Association college newspaper contest.

Congratulations to the following members of The Whit staff:

Third Place, News Writing – Kyle Sullender, Elevated lead levels found in Rowan water

First Place, Arts & Entertainment/Critical Writing – Dylan Maslowski, The return of Pokémon Go, and why it should matter; Walker Weekly

First Place, Photography – Amanda Palma

Third Place, Photography – Nicole Mingo

Third Place, Layout and Design – Nicole Mingo, Taylor Henry, Sarah Hockel, Jessica Mounce, Rowan aims to set Guinness World Record for most foam fingers waved; Love Shouldn’t Hurt Escalation of relationship violence addressed at ‘That’s Not Love’ workshop

Congratulations to the 2017 Rowan University Journalism Medallion Winners

The 2017 Rowan University Journalism Medallion recipients: Kelley Davis and Kyle Sullender

On April 1, the Journalism Department at Rowan University presented its highest student awards for academic excellence.

Kelley Davis, a dual major in Journalism and Public Relations, was awarded the Claudia Cuddy Medallion for Excellence in Editing and Publishing. This award honors a student who excels in editing and/or page layout.

Kyle Sullender, the Editor-in-Chief of The Whit, was awarded the Jack Gillespie Award for Excellence in Journalism. This medallion is given to a student who demonstrates journalism skills, commitment to quality campus publications, and dedication to the art and craft of writing.

Congratulations to Kelley and Kyle.

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Journalism Trip to Washington, DC – Thursday, April 6

Join with Rowan University journalism students and professors for a day trip to Washington, DC. Stops include the Newseum, sites along the National Mall and Arlington Cemetery. Bring a camera and get expert advice from our Photojournalism professors. Cost $45, includes bus transportation and Newseum admission. Contact Suzanne Flynn at 856-256-4049 to reserve a spot. Open to all Rowan University students and faculty.

Alumni Q & A: Stacy Jones, Data Editor at Fortune

Stacy Jones works as a Data Editor at Fortune. She graduated from Rowan University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism and a Minor in Psychology. She as a M.A. in Online Journalism from the University of Maryland-College Park.

Briefly describe your job. What do you do on a daily basis?
I’m in charge of a very small department. It’s just me and a full-time data reporter. We have to dabble in a little of everything to get things done. I’d say I’m 70/30 split on data retrieval/cleaning/analysis and coding. Grace, the data reporter, is the inverse; she’s a stronger coder and still picking up data analysis skills. So we make a nice team. We work mainly in Javascript (D3.js), Python and SQL.

In the mornings, I read the news and scan for stories that might have an obvious data angle and send notes to the editors manning the joint Fortune-Time-Money news desk. Sometimes I go the extra mile and point them in the direction of datasets I know are trustworthy and would help with reporting.

For the past couple weeks, Grace and I have been working on a longterm project. We make sure we stay on the web traffic scoreboard by splitting up our days. She spends the first two to three hours of the day working on a short-term post. We publish around lunch-time, and then we switch gears to spend time on our bigger project in the afternoon.

Sometimes, when our open newsroom is especially loud/distracting, I book a conference room for us on another floor, and we camp out there for the day. It’s way easier to focus on coding when we’re not in the middle of the 24-hour gotta-post-it-right-now news churn.

One of the big goals I had when taking this job was to increase overall data literacy in the newsroom. My colleagues have come a long way, and I’m really proud of that. It’s not easy to be new and to propose changes to a publication’s culture. So every couple of months I host workshops and have been working on setting up office hours so reporters can consult with me on data project ideas.

What is one thing you love about your current job?
I love being a mentor to Grace, who just graduated last spring. There have been a few occasions where I’ve been able to stand up for her and encourage her in ways I wish I had been when I was still an intern or at my first job.

I also love being surrounded by magazine reporters and editors who have such deep knowledge of the business world. All data needs context and human voices before it can tell an engaging story. So when I happen upon a Walmart database, I have an award-winning retail reporter who will sit down with me to go through it and help me make sense of it.

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Study Crime Reporting with George Anastasia in Fall 2017

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In Fall 2017, journalism students at Rowan University can study Crime Reporting with George Anastasia, a long-time reporter and writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and expert on the American Mafia.  He is author of six books and was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. 60 Minutes called Anastasia “one of the most respected crime reporters in the country.”

Registration for Crime Reporting (CRN 41867 JRN 23241 1) opens on March 21.

Journalism Open Advising Session: Monday, March 6 from 2:00pm-4:30pm

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  • Are you interested in a BA or a Minor in Journalism?
  • What journalism courses should you take in Summer or Fall 2017?
  • How do you find a journalism internship?
  • Are you set to graduate in May?
  • Is your resume ready for your first journalism job search?

Come to a Journalism Open Advising Session on Monday, March 6 to discuss your questions with a professor. You can drop by 6 High Street anytime between 2:00pm and 4:30pm.