Below, Shenandoah High School students Devin, Lindsey, Jake, Bailey, Ryan, Spencer, and Tyler share their experience covering the 2012 Republican caucuses for Student Reporting Labs.
What did you expect to see at the caucuses? What surprised you about the experience?
On the Republican side, the turnout was higher than expected for our county. Six different candidates received votes from the precinct we observed, but only two individuals spoke up for presidential candidates. In the Democratic caucus, President Obama addressed precincts via a video call. President Obama also emphasized the need to reach out and speak to your neighbors instead of cable news. He discussed health care, bringing the troops home, and college affordability. The Democratic turnout was smaller than expected, but in viewing the other cities and suburbs, they had higher turnout than our rural county.
What were some journalistic lessons or questions that came up while you were converting the event? What was it like being there as a journalist?
We enjoyed learning about people’s opinions firsthand instead of just listening to the media. We also found that recording people’s opinions has helped develop our personal views more. It was nerve wracking to question people at first, but we are now more comfortable in interviewing and asking for opinions. Furthermore, we enjoyed dressing the part of journalists, especially Spencer who received numerous complements on his bowtie, salmon-colored shirt, and vintage hat.
What was young people’s participation in the caucuses like? Were a lot of young people participating? Any of your friends or classmates?
There were a few high school students, most likely there because our teacher offered incentives for them to attend. There were also a handful of college students and young families, however, most people were fifty and over.
If you could do one interview over again that you did today, which one would it be? Why? What would you change?
The biggest learning experience has been technical issues. We have basic equipment so noting light and audio have been key to obtaining quality interviews. We’ve also improved on our interview techniques over time with follow up questions and persuading people to be interviewed.