The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[STORY BEHIND THE STORY]: Election continuous coverage

BEHIND+THE+STORY.+Writers+Lani+Ngonethong%2C+Tamari+Christopher+and+Elizabeth+Tuttle+put+together+a+three-part+story+tracking+student+elections.
Aarushi Bahadur
BEHIND THE STORY. Writers Lani Ngonethong, Tamari Christopher and Elizabeth Tuttle put together a three-part story tracking student elections.

Bahadur: Continuous coverage stories, which trace the development of a single event over a course of time, can be some of the most enrapturing stories to read and follow. But what is writing continuous coverage like for student reporters? I’m your host, Aarushi Bahadur, and today, I’m going to be talking with three students — Tamari Christopher, Lani Ngonethong and Elizabeth Tuttle — on their experience covering school elections.

Bahadur: This last week, the three writers followed the campaigns, speeches and results for student committee elections, which included those for the Upper School Council, Student Activities Committee and Student Technology Committee. Let’s go behind the scenes on this coverage. Here’s how Christopher got started.

Christopher: I didn’t know what it was when I signed up for it. It was like a surprise to do continuous coverage. I just remember in class, Ms. Campbell, was like you’re doing a story, like, a continuous coverage story. And I was like, I don’t know what that is.

Bahadur: Veteran writer Ngonethong, however, was familiar with how the stories operated.

Ngonethong: I did do a continuous coverage story before. It was more…well, last year, when I was starting out as a news editor, I edited also an election story that was the continuous cover story and I did put it up. The writer was Shefali. And I don’t know if like homecoming would count, but homecoming was one where everyone kind of came together and covered homecoming every single day and published stories the very next day for the homecoming one since we were expected to put it up so quickly. Like, we gave ourselves edits and we didn’t really go through an editor and we just published ourselves for last year publishing the story was a lot easier. Also, because we were doing it much faster than this year’s elections that it was going up every day. So we only went through like a couple rounds of editing and I just published and that was also my first time playing with long format stories. And this year, this year was much more like a normal story. Especially because my story was campaigns and like, you know how campaigns are going which meant that I had a lot more time and it wasn’t like it didn’t have to go up 48 hours because I had like a whole week like they were campaigning for weeks before the election.

Bahadur: The Rubicon’s intended coverage was divided up in three phases: pre-speech campaign work, officer position speeches and results and class representative speeches and results, with three different writers penning each section. When reporting during assemblies, where the election pitches took place, the student journalists took photographs and extensive notes on each candidate’s speech and goals. Christopher, who was covering students vying for officer positions, found that the meticulous note-taking aided her work writing the piece and beyond.

Christopher: I think taking pictures there and reading notes was really helpful for the story. I think that it made me listen a lot more than I would have. I really got to hear what they said I took notes on it to to really understand. I think it helped me like when I was voting to decide too.

Bahadur: Likewise, interviews communication and story order were equally important to the stories effectiveness.

Ngoenthong: My story was about campaigns. It was mainly to introduce what the people were talking about, like the people that were running the campaigns and the ones putting up the posters, you know, introducing now when they were running for who they were running against. So I didn’t get to present every single person because not everyone was campaigning and putting up posters — and that way, it made sure that my story would somehow lead into their [the following writer’s] story than ending it with it when speeches will be because that would be the story that would come after my story.

Bahadur: Beyond order, the writers were also in charge of presenting the candidates to the school community. Tuttle and Christopher each went about making sure they got to the heart of the story by centering the individuality of the candidates.

Tuttle: I do like adding a little bit of like, personal touch or like, you know, connecting my reporting in my writing to like a face. And so I think talking about the candidates, you know, goals is a very good and infrequently exercised or whatever, or like written about topic because I mean, you can cover the results. I feel like that’s very straightforward, but you also it’s, you have to like put a face behind the name and connect people to their words.

Christopher: So mine was the speeches. So I wanted to just like give an overview of what everybody said. And like I wanted to like all of it in one. Basically just like, this is what they’re running for, this what they said, and stuff like that. And for the pictures, my editor Audrey was like, you should take pictures there because they’re more importantly [sic] than the notes because you can always like remember what they said but the pictures you can only take there.

Christopher: Well, I was like, with Flo(rence Barrera) when, like, Flo gave the speech and like, I interviewed her because she was just like, right there. And also she like, I knew she would have some good things to say because I knew she was nervous, and she was excited to give the speech. And then I found somebody who voted and like I just asked them questions. Like, how did you feel voting? Was it hard to like, pick between the like, opposed [sic] people?

Bahadur: The publication of the three continuous coverage stories also aided the RubicOnline in a major accomplishment — reaching the status of SNO distinguished site for the 9th year in a row, an award the website has received ever since the Distinguished Site contest started. In order to receive the commendation, digital newspapers must fullfil certain coverage criteria, including demonstrating a commitment to timely and continuous online journalism. By completing the three consecutive continuous coverage stories, the RubicOnline staff earned the final badge necessary to reach distinguished site status. Here’s Tuttle and Ngonethong on the experience of what it felt like to be writing the stories that gained the site its honor.

Tuttle: I think it’s the least I can do to kind of like give back to the RubicOnline staff. Because from my understanding, all the other boxes were checked off. It’s just the continuous coverage one like we were just waiting on that from my understanding, and so like doing this story and like helping the group accomplish, you know, get the badge. I think we we definitely deserve this award. And I feel, you know, it’s just one it’s one story and, you know, I don’t want one story to hinder the group’s success if that makes sense.

Ngonethong: Continuous coverage can be really fun because, you know, you’re kind of on that grind. And you’re just like, it’s a good stress. When Ms, Campbell announced that we did get the badge, I was very happy. I was like, ‘Hooray’. You know, that was the final story there to get us the badge and it just felt very nice and calming because I know we’ve been working hard all year.

Bahadur: Thanks for tuning in to the Story Behind the Stories podcast with Tamari Christopher, Lani Ngonethong and Elizabeth Tuttle. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. I’m your host, Aarushi Bahadur. If you liked what you heard, visit RubicOnline for more multimedia content. You can also follow us on social media platforms for updates, content and more. Until next time, keep listening to RubicOnline.

Royalty free music from Cozy Coffeehouse by Lunar Years.

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About the Contributor
Aarushi Bahadur
Aarushi Bahadur, Copy Editor/Promotions
My name is Aarushi Bahadur (she/her). I work as a Copy Editor/Promotions for The Rubicon Online. At school, I’m president of A Capella Club and am involved in debate, orchestra, theater, and tennis. I love to talk about classic literature, '80s new wave, and Twin Peaks. I can be reached at [email protected].

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