Rowan student journalists cover Democratic National Convention

Rowan student journalists cover Democratic National Convention

Rowan student journalists to cover Democratic National Convention 2016 in Philly

It’s an opportunity that many lifelong journalists never get to experience – coverage of a national presidential convention.

But when the Democratic National Convention was held July 25-28 in Philadelphia, seven Rowan student journalists were there, live, to cover it as Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman nominated to lead a major party for president.

The students, who enrolled this summer for a three-week special topics course, Covering the DNC, shared four official press passes to report, write, photograph, video and tweet stories and images from the historic convention.

Prior to the convention, rising junior Matt Kass, 20, a journalism major with a political science minor from Springfield, Union County, saw the DNC as a possible entry into a field he’s loved since kindergarten.

“As far back as I can remember I was interested in politics,” said Kass, the political columnist for The Whit. “My parents brought me up with a love of reading and exploring the world around us. If Hillary Clinton ends up winning the White House I will have been at one of the most historic conventions ever.”

Journalism professors Kathryn Quigley and Mark Berkey-Gerard, who have both covered the Republican National Convention (Quigley in 2000 in Philadelphia, Berkey-Gerard in 2004 in New York City) designed the course more than a year in advance to help prepare students for what to expect.

“Covering a national convention is a huge thrill that any journalist or aspiring journalist should experience,” Quigley said.

And she ought to know. After covering the 2000 RNC she joined the Palm Beach Post where she covered the nail-biter contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore, from the too-close-to-call election night itself to the “hanging-chad” recount drama that helped choose the nation’s 43rd president.

“I’m so excited for our students,” she said. “When I covered the RNC it was a truly unique experience, from the stories I wrote to the people I met including (Washington Post legend) Carl Bernstein, (Green Party Candidate) Ralph Nader and Helen Thomas,” a United Press International reporter who covered 11 presidents.

Reporting local news

Rowan students covering the DNC were tasked with covering local stories including interviews with South Jersey delegates and how news from the convention will affect both the region and Rowan University.

“We thought it best to keep a focus on South Jersey and anything Rowan-related and have interviewed some of the local delegates in advance,” Quigley said.

Once at the DNC, students had access to the media tent, from which they filed stories, and the Wells Fargo Center, the sprawling South Philly arena where all nighttime convention activity took place.

Students posted to a dedicated website (, through the Twitter handle @RowanUJourn and broadcasted in real time via Facebook Live and Periscope on Twitter.

Joining Kass on Rowan’s convention coverage were students Ashleigh Albert, Leon Purvis, Britani Lee, Sunshine Mejia, Thomas Klodowsky and Cierra Lewis.

Prior to attending, journalism major Albert, 19, a rising sophomore from Schnecksville, Pa., said she aspires to become an investigative journalist.

“I’m excited because I feel I need to become a little more assertive,” and the DNC experience will help develop that, she said. “At the DNC I’ll see professional journalists in action.”

Berkey-Gerard said that’s a big part of the lesson.

“We’ve talked about conventions, looked at clips of previous conventions, shared Kathryn’s and my experience covering them,” he said. “But a big part is what they’ll learn just being there. It’s for them to see how the other members of the media cover an event like this.”