Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Being on the Other Side

    About a week ago, I was interviewed by a USA Today reporter about my trip to New Hampshire with my Media and American Politics class.  As a reporter for The Defender this semester, I am used to being on the question-asking side of things.  It seems like the less-stressful position during the interview.  This time, it was my turn to be in the hot-seat.
    I had been interviewed before by my local newspaper, but this seemed so much more intimidating! I was really excited to be interviewed, but really nervous at the same time.  I know how annoying it is as a reporter to have a source who does not completely articulate his or her points.  I wanted to try to be as articulate as possible, something I have trouble with as it is often very difficult for me to think on my feet when answering a question in almost any situation.  I am the kind of person who likes to take a minute or two to formulate my answers before saying them out loud in an attempt to sound intelligent rather than like a bumbling idiot.  I am much more articulate when I write my answers.
    I spent a lot of time the night before and the morning of the interview trying to think of the questions the reporter might ask and the things I might say to answer those questions.  I seemed pretty well-prepared until the reporter actually called and started interviewing me.  A lot of questions I did not think of before the interview.  By the time the interview ended, I was not sure whether or not I had completely gotten my point across or if I actually gave the reporter usable quotes.  I actually apologized to the reporter after the fact explaining how little I actually am on that side of the interview.  He was very nice and understanding though, which gave me confidence that I may have done better than I thought.
    Whether I'm on the side of the questioner or the side of the interviewee, interviews are always a learning process.  I think being on both sides of the process helps reporters improve by giving them a better understanding of how to frame questions and what kinds of answers to look for.  This time, as well as the other times I've been interviewed, have been very beneficial to how I go about my interviews.
    To view the USA Today article, click here.
    If you have any questions, feel free to email me (emurray@mail.smcvt.edu), tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Coverage from the Debates!

Check it out! A clip from the Romney event our class attended even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night! One of our classmates was the person who asked the question about the Wall Street protests!  There are also some SMC students standing in the background of the clip.
To view the video, click here. Enjoy!

NH Debates: Up Close and Personal

    Last week on Monday and Tuesday, I took a trip with my Media and American Politics class to New Hampshire to attend several candidates' town meetings and the Dartmouth debate.  The point of the trip was to see the relationship between media and politics on the campaign trail as well as exercise our First Amendment rights in questioning the candidates at the town meetings.  It turned out to be one of the best and most interesting field trips I had ever been on.
Two other bloggers, Tarah and Gabbi, and me in front of the St. Michael's bus!

    At 8 a.m. on Monday, the 60 students both from our class and from SGAC (Student Global AIDS Campaign) boarded the coach bus and van, both bearing the name of our college, and started on our way.  SGAC had a different mission, bird-dogging during the town hall meetings so they could get the candidates  to commit to funding the eradication of AIDS in foreign countries.  They dispersed their members throughout the audience, asking the same question, but framing it differently each time to try to make it one of the major issues for candidates.
    Our first stop was Tilton, NH, where we saw Jon Huntsman speak and answer questions.  We were told he was the most moderate GOP candidate.  My classmates and I made up most of his audience, so we were the ones mostly asking the questions.  We focused on a lot of social issues, like global AIDS and gay marriage, and he answered each of our questions as many times as we asked them.  Even though he seemed to dodge certain questions at times, he told us he would look into the issues about which he had limited knowledge so he could try to solve them if he became president.  Huntsman actually turned out to be my favorite candidate after the trip.

Dan Quigley, one of my classmates, asks Huntsman a
question during the town hall meeting in Tilton.  
Huntsman speaks to the audience in Tilton, NH.

Huntsman shakes hands of people in the audience
on his way into the town hall.

    Next, our class went to the Concord Monitor, one of the bigger news publications in New Hampshire, to speak to the online editor, Meg Heckman.  She spoke to us about how the coverage of the campaign trail has changed with the increased use of online media and social networks.  She said the main issue she has encountered is in verifying sources and information.  Since there is so much information online, it is difficult to find where some information comes from as well as distinguish between fact and fiction.  "Breaking news" can sometimes just be rumors in this day and age. 
    Our final event of the day was going to Mitt Romney's town hall meeting at the Hopkington, NH town hall.  Our classmates basically repeated what we did at the Huntsman town hall, asking about social issues and asking multiple questions about the same issue to push Romney to explain his positions.  The difference was that Romney and his audience (half of which was my classmates and the rest middle-aged and elderly people) began to get annoyed with us.  After one of my classmates asked the third question regarding his opinion on gay marriage, he refused to answer, saying he already answered the question, and moved onto the next question.  He seemed to avoid questions from anyone our age for the remainder of the town hall meeting. 
Mitt Romney addresses his audience in Hopkington, NH.

Romney during his opening remarks.


    In comparing Huntsman's and Romney's styles, it was apparent that Romney seemed much easier to make uncomfortable with questions.  Both candidates seemed more prepared to talk about economic issues rather than social issues.  The difference was that Romney seemed to have more people from the demographic he was preaching to in his audience, and he was trying to keep them on his side.  It almost seemed like our questions made him nervous and he was willing to do anything to keep the room on his side, including ignoring questions he said he already answered.  We made up most of Huntsman's audience, so he really had no choice but to answer our questions if he wanted to keep the room on his side.  

One of my classmates asks Mitt Romney about his position on
gay marriage.

    The next day we attended the debate, getting to Dartmouth early to meet journalists and campaign officials.  Among the most notable people we met was Fox Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron, who answered all of our questions from what his job was on the campaign trail to if he thought Fox news was biased.  I asked him whether he had a prediction as to who would win the nomination, to which he answered that he hasn't yet collected all the information that will help him make his decision so it was too early to tell.  He also talked about how the GOP candidates are people too and they are just as fallible as the rest of us.  The campaign trail was the prime place to see their flaws and decide which candidate would be the best president.  

Carl Cameron from Fox News speaks to our

The entrance to the debate at Dartmouth.


    Finally, we attended the watch party for the debate, which was right down the street from the actual debate.  An audience made up of mostly college and high school students was able to watch the debate on a humongous screen in the middle of the gymnasium.  The energy was fantastic, as people cheered and boo'd at certain parts of the debate.  The favorite phrase of the night seemed to be Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan, and as the debate went on, there were very audible groans from the audience whenever he mentioned it.  After the watch party, Huntsman, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich came by and greeted the audience.  This is where I was most impressed with Huntsman.  Not only did he recognize our classmates and the name of our school when he saw us, he mentioned AIDS funding in his speech to the entire audience.  At that moment, we knew we made some sort of an impact on Jon Huntsman and possibly other candidates as well.  
Dartmouth gym where the watch party took place.

Newt Gingrich after the watch party.
Michele Bachmann greets watch party attendees.
    I am so proud of my class as we made the national news and were able to respectfully exercise our First Amendment right to freedom of speech and take part in the democratic process.  This trip was DEFINITELY worth it.  I learned so much about the different politicians as well as journalists who cover them.  Click on some of the links below to see some of the news sites that covered our participation in the town hall meetings: 
   Two of my classmates and I were even interviewed by USA Today College!
   If you would like any other information about the New Hampshire trip, or have another question regarding college life, academics, etc, feel free to contact me via email (emurray@mail.smcvt.edu), Twitter (LittleLizzie33) or Formspring (lizmurray3).  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One of the Best Things About College

Lately, I've been working on an article for The Defender about conversation partners, which is when American students pair up with international students in order to learn about each other's cultures and help the international student study English.  As a student at St. Mike's, I've had the privilege of becoming not a conversation partner, but a friend to a few international students.  One of the best things about college is you never know who you'll meet - or where they come from.
I've been friends with another student named Riko since freshman year.  Riko comes from New Zealand, but she has family ties to Japan so she is often conversing with many of the Japanese exchange students. Riko is what you can call a genius. She is 17 and a junior in college, but you'd never know it because of the maturity she emulates.  Riko has become one of my best friends in college, and we can talk about basically anything normal friends talk about.  The difference is, however, that she has a huge understanding of three different cultures now and she is constantly teaching me new things.  A few weeks ago, I was in her room and she pulled out a Japanese "Seventeen" magazine.  "Seventeen" is very popular in America as many girls get advice on hair styles, make-up, clothes, relationships and more from it.  Looking at a Japanese version, I was able to learn a lot about their culture and what the gender roles are like as well the way men and women are portrayed through their media.  I was surprised to find that one of their fashions, as Riko translated for me, was called "American Casual".  Riko said it is very fashionable in Japan for girls to wear jeans and a t-shirt and successfully "pull off" the look!  Here in America, it is very common to wear jeans and a t-shirt every day and not think anything of it.
Riko and me playing with photobooth on my computer!

Last year, I also became good friends with Mai who is from Osaka, Japan.  Even though she was at St. Mike's to study for only a year, we still keep in touch via skype and send regular messages to each other via Facebook.  She was a wonderful person to get to know and I really treasure the bond that we formed.  I learned a lot from hanging out with both Riko and Mai, including onomatopoeias in Japanese ("peta peta peta") and facts about Japanese food, culture, and music.  I even learned how to make paper cranes from them, which is a beautiful and very complicated art form (I was definitely not good at it).
Me and Mai last year on Halloween.  A bit of a switch of
cultures since I'm dressed as a Pokemon character
(Japanese) and she's dressed as Little Red Riding Hood (American).
This year, I have another friend named Rui from Tokyo, Japan.  I have just started to get to know her, but we are becoming fast friends.  Rui asked to hang out with my group of friends because she thought it would be a better way to learn English.  I really hope that we will be able to form a lasting friendship as well as learn from each other and about each other's culture until she has to leave in December.
Rui and Riko on a recent outing to Burlington! 
Students do not need a conversation partner program if they want to get to know international students on a more personal basis, though it most certainly helps those international students who want to perfect their English skills.  I have learned so much from the few international students I have gotten to know, and I hope to get to know more students during these last two years that I have at St. Mike's.  I think some students forget that getting to know international
students is a very valuable and worthwhile experience.  Who knows?  You may even find a life-long friend.  I love my international friends just as much as I love my American friends, and I am so glad I to have the opportunity to meet people from so many different backgrounds.
If you have any questions regarding international students or my life as a student at St. Mikes, please feel free to email me at emurray@mail.smcvt.edu.