What I learned: Covering a presidential debate

In this edition of “What I learned,” senior staff reporter Kathryn Cargo shares her notes on covering a presidential debate, a session she attended the College Media Association/Associated Collegiate Press national convention in Austin. Thanks, Kathryn, for sharing your advice to help move The Shorthorn forward.

How to cover a presidential debate 

  • Before the debate, do pre-coverage: gather information about candidates, logistics and issues you know they might cover.
  • Live tweet, but not too much. Tweet the important points. If you tweet too much, your audience will stop reading them.
  • Be ready to run and push.
  • Keep your eye on the audience.
  • Interview the people who ask interesting questions. Ask them whether they were satisfied with the candidates answer.
  • Write your story as you go to keep from missing deadline.
  • Watch for trends. Is one side stronger than the other?
  • A general debate lede will include main points in the debate.
  • Don’t worry about chronology of the debate when writing your story. Put the most important news at the top and the least important at the bottom.
  • Avoid bias and put aside any personal opinions. Make sure to represent each candidate equally.
  • Send out a quick social media summary. You can add a photo of the audience or candidate departing.  Save the analysis and full story for later.

The Shorthorn can use this advice when covering any debate on campus or upcoming presidential debates.


Note from Beth: What are your thoughts? Add to the conversation by posting below. 

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