Front Row Seat to History | School of Journalism & Mass Communication | Kent State University

Front Row Seat to History

JMC Students to Experience Historic RNC in Cleveland as Interns, Reporters

As media and communications professionals from across the country descend upon Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention, July 18-21, 2016, so too, will students from Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC).

Public relations major Sarah Matthews, ’17, has been working with the Republican National Convention’s Committee on Arrangements as an intern in the digital department since mid-May. She helps maintain the Convention’s online and social media presence by creating Snapchat stories, writing blog posts, filming and editing videos, drafting Tweets and more – all tasks she has been well-prepared to take on, thanks to her public relations courses.

She will be based at Media Row for the entire week of the convention, and throughout her internship, has had a front row seat to the committee’s preparation for and execution of the historic event.

“I started my internship two-and-a-half months prior to Convention, but people have been planning this for more than a year,” Matthews said. “I didn’t realize coming into this internship just how much work goes into planning a Convention and how many moving parts there are.”

Meanwhile, journalism majors will be spending the week of the convention reporting for and assisting professional reporters from across the country covering the event.

Three students – Portia Booker, ’17, Megan Deierling, ’17, and Clint Datchuk, ’17 – started working with field reporters from PBS NewsHour two weeks prior to the Convention, and will be assisting them at Convention events, proceedings and delegate meetings all over Cleveland. They have spent the past two weeks working with media set-up both at Quicken Loans Arena and the Convention Center of Cleveland. 

"Although setting up locations seems like it would be an easy task, it's not," said Deierling. "We have to make sure we properly accommodate everyone and learn how to work alongside all of the other news stations and their crew."

Five others – Patrick Shade, ’17, Cameron Gorman, ’19, Matt Poe, ’18, Taylor Kerns, ’17, and Anna Huntsman, ’18 – will contribute to news coverage for TEGNA, Inc. stations across the country for both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Based in WKYC Channel 3’s downtown Cleveland newsroom for both conventions, the students will assist TEGNA’s team of convention reporters with fact checking, researching and data mining. TEGNA, formerly Gannett. Co., owns 46 television stations in 38 markets, including WKYC, Cleveland’s NBC affiliate.

Alexandra Delaney-Gesing, ’17, summer editor for, will lead student media’s convention coverage. She and five other students will report from Cleveland throughout the week, many with media credentials and access to Convention events at Quicken Loans Arena. Others will cover protests and happenings outside the Convention’s official perimeter.

Kent State’s College of Communication and Information (CCI) is partnering with Purple America, a national initiative aimed at refocusing the American conversation to a civil, productive and respective dialogue on common values, during the convention. Kent State students, faculty and administrators will have the opportunity to attend speaker sessions, panel discussions and roundtables at the organization’s 2,500-square-foot Purple Tent, just outside the Convention’s perimeter. Topics include “Polling and Media,” “Is Civility Dead?,” “Engaging Millennials” and more. Several public relations students are volunteering as live bloggers for the organization to document the events.

Three CCI student marketing assistants – Erica Batyko, 15, '18; Taylor Meade, '17; and Maggie Wachtel, '17 will live tweet from the Purple Tent Tuesday and Wednesday. Follow their commentary across all social media using #CCIRNC, #CCIPurpleTent and #Purple4Civility.

Students agree that the Convention offers an unparalleled chance to witness history for the region and gain professional experience.

“After the Cavs championship and now the hype surrounding the Indians, the energy in the city is at an all-time high,” Matthews said. “I’m hoping that we can keep this momentum going heading into the week of Convention and pull off a fantastic event. The Convention coming to Cleveland is such a historic moment for this city, and I’m so happy to be a part of the team that’s going to show the country everything I already know Cleveland has to offer. As a Northeast Ohioan, I couldn’t ask for a better time to be living and working in downtown Cleveland and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

POSTED: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - 3:59pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 11:51am