In the midst of the chaos, protests and parades, nine Central Michigan University journalism students were on-site to report live from the presidential inauguration on Friday, Jan. 20.
"It is an experience they should have as a journalist," said Teresa Hernandez, a journalism faculty member who led the group. "I think opportunities like this are what we do as journalism professors."
Lapeer senior Kate Carlson, who serves as editor-in-chief of Central Michigan Life, answered questions about her experience as a student journalist at this event.
You've been planning to go to the inauguration for several months now. What were your expectations at the beginning?
Carlson: "With most other major outlets and polls, we assumed we'd be covering the historic event of the first woman president and that didn't end up being the case. But, it's still a very historic moment. It's an exciting time to be a journalist."
How would you describe your experience at the inauguration?
Carlson: "It was honestly the most powerful weekend of my life and the most powerful experience I've ever had as a normal citizen and definitely as a journalist. We talked to a lot of different people, and it was so interesting hearing the running themes in their answers."
How do you feel your classes and involvements at CMU helped prepare you to be a student journalist at this historic event?
Carlson: "I wouldn't have been able to go on this trip if it wasn't for support from CM Life and the journalism department, especially from Dave Clark and Teresa Hernandez. I really appreciate all of them for helping organize this trip and trusting us to do this at all. We were all super nervous to try to cover this historical event as the world was watching. I saw CNN watching the inaugural address with us from their building overlooking Capitol Hill. I saw all of these famous journalists and huge news organizations right alongside our little college newspaper."
Why is it important for CMU to provide experiences like this to its students?
Carlson: "It's one of the most important experiences to have as a journalist. But, as a citizen, getting to experience this was so humbling. Regardless of what political views you have, it's so important to witness the atmosphere and the landscape from both sides."
Tell us about the issue of Central Michigan Life that came out today and what it was like to pull it together.
Carlson: "We made a game plan every night of exactly what stories we were going to cover and what live coverage we were going to try to do. It was a lot of editing remotely. We had to stop late last night at a McDonald's and try to edit all of the pages online.
The headline of the paper we put together today is 'Divided We Stand.' After experiencing it firsthand, it's really so true. Understanding what's going on in our country right now is so important. It's important as an American citizen to really try your best to understand all sides of the political sphere. As a journalist, that's our job, too."
Everyone on my staff really did contribute a huge piece to this paper. I am really proud of the edition and everything online that we covered live."
The CMU students who attended the inauguration included:
• Claire Abendroth, a senior from Fremont, Michigan
• Monica Bradburn, a junior from Fenton, Michigan
• Kate Carlson, a senior from Lapeer, Michigan
• Chelsea Grobelny, a sophomore from Shelby Township, Michigan
• Jordyn Hermani, a senior from Troy, Michigan
• Daytona Niles, a 2016 graduate from Grand Rapids, Michigan
• Ben Solis, a senior from Canton, Michigan
• Shelby Webster, a senior from Boyne City, Michigan
• Gregory Wickliffe, a senior from Muskegon, Michigan