Above, from left, Luke O’Brien ’19, Emma Monahan ’18 and Reagan Smith ’19 work to update the latest poll results on the Berkshire Eagle’s website as part of the newspaper’s election night coverage. Below, the newsroom on election night, and two of the graphics that the students updated throughout the evening.
Journalism Students Contribute to Local Election Night Coverage
Seven MCLA journalism students on election night headed to the Berkshire Eagle newsroom in Pittsfield, where they played an important role in the newspaper’s live, online coverage of the polls.
Working in small groups, the students collected the latest poll results from the fax machine or via the phone by checking in with the region’s town clerks throughout the evening. Then, the results were typed in, read and double-checked for accuracy before being posted to the newspaper’s website.
“It went great,” said Berkshire Eagle Editor Kevin Moran. “The students worked well under deadline pressure, and retrieved and accurately entered election data in multiple campaigns and ballot questions for all 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County.”
For several in the group, it was their first time to step foot into a professional newsroom, according to Mitchell Chapman ’18 of Pittsfield, Mass., who works part-time at the Eagle as a page designer and copy editor.
“This was my first time in a professional newsroom, and it was different than what I imagined,” said Emma Monahan ’18, of North Brookfield, Mass. “I was picturing what you see in movies, where everything is chaotic and people are running around, but it was the complete opposite.”
“It was cool to see people having civil discussions about the results, and to have the energy of the room wrapped around you. It was incredible to help a major newspaper give local election results to the public, while also learning more about the areas around us and where they stand on the issues,” said Emily Gabert ’19 of Bennington, Vt.
Harmony Birch ’16 of Central Massachusetts enjoyed seeing how a local news organization contributed to coverage of an event of national importance.
“It was also interesting to watch the national organizations calling states before most of our cities had even finished counting their ballots, and to see premature calling of many states,” Birch said. “… As a news consumer it’s important to be skeptical.”
All of the students, Chapman said, found the experience to be extremely valuable. “You don’t get many opportunities to cover election night like this.”
“They should be proud of their efforts and what they were able to accomplish,” Moran said. “It’s serious work getting these numbers collected and published. We were grateful for their efforts.”
Photos by Mitchell Chapman. Images of election results used with permission from the Berkshire Eagle.