Live, from the vice presidential debate press room

By Erica Christoffer

Oct. 2, 2008

Three minutes before 8 p.m. Thursday night it hits me – I really am covering one of the most anticipated political events during this historic election. I was overwhelmed. I had to tell someone – share what I was experiencing. So I updated my status on Facebook.

“OK, Alexandra Pelosi’s work station is behind me and the Daily Show is filming to the right of me! Am I dreaming? Three minutes to go tiil debate time!!!!”  (In my haste, I misspelled ‘til.)

Not sure if this is up to the maturity level of a nearly 30-year-old reporter, but oh well.

The debate starts. Sarah Palin and Joe Biden’s voices boom in televised echoes through the gymnasium-turned-press room on the Washington University campus. Between typing my notes on important matters of public policy and the future of the economy, I can’t help but get sidetracked, staring – blatantly, even – at the other journalists surrounding me, watching them as they feverously type away. There is a hum. There is a vibe. They are churning out the messages millions of Americans will read in the morning. Again, I am in awe.

Toward the end of the debate Palin remarked that she liked speaking to the American people directly rather a having the mainstream media tell viewers what they just heard. I thought about this awhile. Yes, Palin has been under much scrutiny. I know the few interviews she has done have received poor reviews. So, yes, the media does create a filter between her and the public.

But what are filters for? To disseminate information to the public in a manner they can understand and relate to. To explain complicated matters those with expertise are all too familiar with. To be a voice of question, reason and challenge. Filters can distort, but they can also make things more clear.

I also decided that the public is intelligent enough to get information from the source directly as well as from various news outlets acknowledging that each as its own “filter,” so to speak.

The debate ends and I have a new, refreshed resolve within myself for the good and just purpose of news. Thousands of reporters descend on a single college campus to listen to two politician talk. Why? Because it is our right and our obligation to be here and empower those (readers) who cannot.

As one student I interviewed said, “I am proud to have been here.” I feel that way, too.

Plus, I got a picture with John Oliver.

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One thought on “Live, from the vice presidential debate press room

  1. I thought your story made the debate come alive. I would have loved to have been there for historical reasons. You wrote about something that is a interesting part of this election. Besides myself ,I know many people that are undecided. They are waiting.

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