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.”

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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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

crimereporting

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.

Trymaine Lee named to “40 Under 40” alumni list

tumblr_obfzlgm1rx1vcy93io1_r1_500Trymaine Lee, a 2003 graduate of Journalism program, was named to Rowan University’s “40 under 40.” In 2005, Lee was part of a Pulitizer Prize winning team at The Times-Picayune newspaper. He has worked at The New York Times, Huffington Post, and is currently a national reporter for MSNBC. He is working on a book about gun violence in America called “Million Dollar Bullets.”

Read the 40 by 40 profile of Lee.

Rowan journalism students gain political reporting experience covering DNC

By Catherine DeMuroimg_5245-copy

This summer, Rowan University journalism students covered four days of protests, press conferences, speeches and media madness at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia.

For Matt Kass, a journalism major and political science minor, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“For almost my entire life I’ve been interested in politics,” said Kass. “Being involved in any way, shape or form with either major party convention was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

The event was the culmination of a three-week summer course taught by Rowan journalism professors Kathryn Quigley and Mark Berkey-Gerard, who both covered presidential conventions in the past.

In the weeks leading up to the event, students studied past conventions and honed their reporting, writing and multimedia skills.

From July 25-28, the students worked 12 hour days covering the DNC at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and at the Wells Fargo Center. Student reported via social media, shot photo and video footage, filed stories for their website RowanU DNC News, and learned by working side-by-side with professional reporters in the media tent.

“Part of the experience of covering a convention is seeing how reporters do their work,” said Berkey-Gerard. “It gives students a new perspective on what they study in class.”

A half-a-dozen student stories were also published in The Courier Post, a Gannett newspaper in southern New Jersey and part of the USA Today network, which gave the reporting wider exposure.

For Cierra Lewis, 21-year-old journalism major, the highlight was her 15 minutes of fame — or in today’s terms — her 50,000 views on Snapchat.

“It was pretty awesome having my video make it to the DNC Snapchat story,” said Lewis. “Over 50,000 people viewed my snap of protesters as they occupied the media tent after Bernie [Sanders] conceded.”

Lewis also covered several street protests and an impromptu press conference conducted by Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson, Shailene Woodley and Susan Sarandon.

“It was so exciting, and I became more confident in my writing abilities,” said Lewis. “It helped me face my rejection fear because people would turn me down when I asked for an interview, but it just made me better.”