Live interviews, breaking news, and tight deadlines are all in a day's work for University of Miami student media. But when the candidates for president of the United States come to campus — along with major international and nation media — it's the biggest story of the year and an opportunity of a lifetime.
The university's student media made up by mostly School of Communication students were among the national and international media covering "Meet the Candidates" a Spanish-language forum featuring President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney on Wednesday and Thursday at UM and presented by Univision and Facebook.
Moderated by Univision news anchors Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos, the first-ever event targeting Hispanic-Americans was held at the Bank United Center (BUC) Field house and taped in front of a live audience that included UM students. The forum was broadcast on Univision.
Both candidates fielded questions from Ramos, Salinas, and the audience, about issues such as Immigration Reform, Foreign Policy in Mexico and Libya, creating jobs in the dismal economy, and the rising cost of higher education.
“I feel like I’m a part of history and it’s great to cover a story that matters to the whole country, not just UM students,” said Monica Herndon, a photographer for The Miami Hurricane.
Student media, including UMTV, WVUM 90.5 FM, Distraction magazine, and the Ibis yearbook, covered the big event alongside CNN, The New York Times, BBC, and The Wall Street Journal.
Student media also reported from watch parties at the University Center on both days, and additionally covered a visit by Herman Cain, a one-time candidate for the Republican Party presidential nomination, who stopped by a Political Science class Tuesday night.
"This is the third election in a row where presidential candidates visited the UM campus and our students have been able to be among the media covering it," said Prof. Andrew Barton, an adviser for UMTV, the University's cable TV station. "Very few college students get to cover the presidential race alongside the very people they aspire to be someday."
Christian Smith, a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science was pulling double duty at the forum, writing a feature for Distraction and tweeting live for UMTV.
"I didn't anticipate how fast I had to work to keep up," Smith said. "In class you do your assignments but you have all the time in the world, but here it's instant. The whole thing is so exciting because you're in a legitimate press room covering a national story and knowing that real people are going to see your work, not just a professor in class."
"I was afraid at first because I've never done something like this, but then I really enjoyed it," added Laura Yepes, a Print Journalism and Political Science Major who works for the Ibis.
Journalism Graduate Student Jennifer Somach said the event also was an excellent networking opportunity. She got to interview the media and received advice from the professionals, who watched student media as they delivered their live reports and then offered tips on performance.
"To be amongst major media and talk to them about their careers gave me great insight," Somach said. "This was more than I could ask for."
The biggest challenge, said UMTV station manager and reporter Julian Glover, a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism, was coordinating the coverage and supporting staff, while also putting together his own piece about the event.
"As it is in news, things kept changing and I had to make sure everything was on track and the lines of communication were open among our staff," he said. "It was really exciting. Great opportunities like this reaffirm time and time again that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life."
~ Ivette M. Yee & Emily Young
Sept. 21, 2012
*For stories Miami Hurricane stories about the 2012 Presidential Candidates, click here. Watch UMTV's coverage of the 2012 Presidential Candidates visit to UM here: