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.


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


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.

Alumni Q & A: Alison Mastrangelo On Covering the Super Bowl

UPDATE: March 3, 2017 – Alison has a new job as a weekend sports anchor at Denver ABC affiliate KMGH-TV.

Alison Mastrangleo works as a Sports Director/Anchor/Reporter at FOX21 News in Colorado Springs, CO. She graduated from Rowan University in 2013 with a double major in Journalism and Health and Physical Education. In February, she will cover Super Bowl 51.

What is it like covering the Super Bowl? Is it as crazy as it seems?
It is insane. You work every single hour, but it is the coolest thing ever. It’s so hard to explain because when you tell people, they think it’s just like a vacation. It’s not a vacation. This week, we’ve been working on four shows for my FOX station. We shoot for the early show, and then we’re live every night at 9 pm and 10 pm. One day we worked in the car for eight hours because we didn’t have anywhere to edit. We were editing, tracking and doing everything in the car.

Do you have personal highlights from covering the Super Bowl?
Media Night so far has been my favorite thing. It’s for the players, but also for media around to world to come together and make a spectacle of ourselves. I grew up watching the show “Kenan and Kel.” At Media Night, I saw Kel. I went up to talk to him, and then we got to do the whole Good Burger motto from his show, and I was reliving my childhood.

Last year you covered your home team Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Is it different this year?
With the Broncos, all the players didn’t know me personally, but they knew my face, so when I’d go up to them, they’d say, “I know you, I’ll talk to you.” This year I have to squeeze in just to ask a question, so it’s a little bit harder. And you don’t know all the little anecdotes like when you’re covering the team all season long, so that’s been a challenge.

How do you distinguish yourself from other reporters and media outlets?
We look for local angles. There are actually two Colorado connections. The Patriots’ Nate Solder grew up in Colorado, and the Falcon’s Ben Garland grew up in Grand Junction and went to the Air Force Academy. Or I try to turn it to more of a human-interest thing. So one day instead of doing the X’s and O’s on the offense and defense, I’ll go up to different players and ask them about their superstitions and some fun facts. You have these big guys who will say, “Oh, I’m a writer” or “I’m a spear fisher.”

c3ymiwlucaave9jWhen you are not covering the Super Bowl, what’s your regular work routine?
I produce, write and anchor three shows. There’s a sports show at 5 pm, 9 pm and 10 pm, and they’re about two to three minutes long. And during the week, I’ll try to get to some of the local high school games or set up local features. Before we came out here we shot a story on a skateboarding church. During the Broncos season, we’re up there for all their home games and week one practice.

What is one thing you love about your job?
I love that it’s always different. I might come in thinking I’m going to cover one thing, and it changes because sports is still news. And I love being out in the field telling stories.

What’s one of the biggest challenges of your job?
The long hours. Some days I’ll come in at 8:30 am and I’ll be working until 11:00 pm, and you might be working five or six days a week. You hit a wall after a string of 14 hour days, but that’s any job.

Do you have any advice for aspiring journalists studying at Rowan?
Do as many internships as you possibly can. I interned at FOX 29 in Philly, and I did their morning show for a semester, and I did their night show. I learned so much. Just try everything. Don’t be annoying about it, but show you want to learn. I met some of the best mentors in my internships.

Sports journalism is a very competitive business. Any advice for aspiring sports journalists?
I’m unique because I started doing news and went into sports. My advice is to try for sports jobs first, but be aware that in a typical news station, if there are 10 reporters, then there will two sports reporters. Also be prepared to work in a very small market. But it can happen. When I graduated from Rowan, I couldn’t imagine covering one professional football team, let alone covering a Super Bowl. Now I’m on my second. I’ve definitely pinched myself.

Rowan Alumni Q & A with Erica Bauwens-Young ’11

bauwensyoungprofileThis month, Rowan Alumni features Erica Bauwens-Young, a 2011 Journalism graduate and Managing Editor at Del Val Media, which publishes of regional 35 magazines, including South Jersey Magazine, South Jersey Biz, and Suburban Life.

“I feel very accomplished when I get to tell the stories about people and what they have done—and are doing—really important things in my community,” says Bauwens-Young. “I have gotten to speak with Holocaust survivors, cancer survivors, elected officials and families who have overcome horrible losses to do real, true good, and those are things that stick with me when I look to make personal choices in my own life.”

Bauwens-Young also serves as a supervisor for Rowan University journalism interns at the publication.

Read the full Q&A here.