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OTP NEWS WASHINGTON – Election Nights in America

EDITOR’S NOTE: While Vice President Kamala Harris is, indeed, the first female vice president, and the first woman of color, she is not the first person of color to hold the office of Vice President. That honor goes to Charles Curtis, a member of the Kaw Nation and the Vice President to President Herbert Hoover.

GOA ZHU
Welcome back from the break here on DC TV and online, my name is go azu and this is OTP news Washington special report reflecting on an election with continuing ripples through the United States and around the world. Under normal circumstances, we strive to focus on what stories look like from students in the United States. But earlier this year, journalists, young and old, began to notice that the best digests of what American discourse looks like aren’t American. They look to the voices of the BBC and those who held no allegiance to this democratic republic. Ani Kasparian discusses just one angle of a reeling international election space in her reporting. Let’s take a look.

DEMONSTRATOR
[SINGING]

ANI KASPARIAN
It’s Saturday, November 7, and I’m here in Lafayette Square in Washington DC right after the announcement of the president elect Joseph R. Biden. He will be the 46th President of the United States and the first president elect that has won against an incumbent in 25 years. His vice president elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman to serve as vice president in the United States and also the first person of color. Here in Lafayette Square people have gathered to celebrate and share with chants and signs and lots of songs and music. As you can see, there are over 1000 people gathered here today, the presidential election results came in after Pennsylvania submitted their official count, Joseph arbeiten won more than 34,000 votes more than Trump. This sealed the deal and signified that he would be the next president of the United States. Americans were on the edge of their seats during the week of the elections as day after day, a multitude of states reported the same status for their vote count to close to call down to only a few key states to determine a win. It was noted that if Biden won Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes, he would in fact, when the entire election, once the news of this win was released, Washington DC dwellers immediately started to hear cars honking their horns and people gathering in the streets and celebration. Within a few hours. This scene we observed here in Lafayette Square ensued, I was able to speak with an American voter who participated in this celebration, when asked why she came out to do so here’s what she had to say.

DC VOTER
I’m out here because today is I feel like it’s Christmas. It’s Christmas. It’s my birthday. It’s Easter, it’s Obama all over again. I’m just excited. And I think it’s important to be here. It’s important that we all you know, get together, stick together and let the world know that we can be united again. You know, I want Trump’s supporters out here. I want everyone out here. I want people to celebrate a new day, a new day in America. You know, Democrats and Republicans, we have always had disagreements, but it’s never been this vitriol. It’s never been so is that it’s never been like this. Personally, I think I’m just looking for a change. You know, for the last four years, five years, really, we’ve had such division and such, you know, hatred In our country. And it doesn’t need to be that way. We’re Americans. We’re all Americans. And there’s no way of going backwards, but we can move forwards and we will need to move forward in a positive way.

DEMONSTRATOR

  • Mnuchin is out of the Treasury. That means Jared Kushner is out of the White House.

ANI KASPARIAN
For OTP, Washington. reporting from Lafayette Square.

GOA ZHU
And we are joined now by Priscilla Segnini. Priscilla is a current graduate student and Georgetown University’s Master’s in journalism program, and has lended her voice to the network Teletica for reporting on this election. She’s also president of Georgetown University’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, one of our underwriting student organizations. Thank you so much for joining us.

PRISCILLA SEGNINI
Hi, Goa. How are you?

GOA ZHU
I’m good. How are you?

PRISCILLA SEGNINI
I’m doing well.

GOA ZHU
So can you tell us a little bit about the reporting that you sent back to electrica and some of the concerns that people had at the time?

PRISCILLA SEGNINI
Yes, so This new station, you’re very interesting to cover the elections, especially because there are a lot of like Costa Ricans who are living in the United States that are voting, or were were able to vote in the presidential elections. So Costa Rica has a strong relationship to the United States, we have a lot of tourists coming from the United States, a lot of people that go down there to retire. And in addition to that, Costa Rica has a lot of share services offices that they offer to the United States. So companies like brothers, IBM, Intel, and HP are based down there. So for the country’s very relevant what is going to happen in the upcoming elections. So they really want us to cover how Costa Ricans were voting, who they were supporting what issues they care about in this upcoming elections.

GOA ZHU
And so were people in Costa Rica generally surprised on the result of this election?

PRISCILLA SEGNINI
I think a lot of people were supporting Trump a lot of people who are supported by them. But a lot of people were hoping that Biden was going was going to get elected because of a lot of immigration policies and implemented during his administration. There were a lot of like issues with people that were having, for example, when you apply for the work for the tourist visa for the world visa, those spots were a little bit reducted during Trump administration. So a lot of people were hoping that things were going to go to be more smooth with Biden as a precedent. So people for sure, were kind of thinking that Trump was going maybe to have a second term. But I do think that for sure, having Biden elected was a huge surprise, surprise for the country.

GOA ZHU
So throughout your reporting, was there anything that took you by surprise, or you did not expect?

PRISCILLA SEGNINI
Yes, I think something that really took me by surprise was that I was visiting a lot of voting centers around the DC area because of reporting from there. So for example, the first one that I visited, when I was covering on Election Day was one located at Columbia Heights. And something that I was very surprised by was that they were not like a lot of people do early voting, and a lot of people voted by mail. So I was kind of like expecting that because of the COVID restrictions and all the measurements that the voting center had to put in place to make everyone to be safe when they were like voting. I was expecting some long lines, and for me was very surprising that everything was smooth. It was taking about five to 10 minutes for people to vote and nobody had to wait in a long line. So that’s something that I was very, very surprised when I was covering that day, different spots around the DC area.

GOA ZHU
Yes. Well, I’m glad that everyone’s taking social distancing very seriously. Well, thank you so much for joining us here Priscilla and for sharing your insights and reporting.

PRISCILLA SEGNINI
Thanks to you.

GOA ZHU
Now, after a prolonged election cycle, our own Samantha Jill Anderson brings us her continuing story=

SAMANTHA JILL ANDERSON
as the new year and Inauguration Day rapidly approach. Many Americans in the world at large have been envisioning what a Biden presidency may look like. One of President Elect Biden’s campaign slogans, “Build Back Better,” offer some insight into the policy changes that many who voted blue in November are hopeful to see come to fruition. Some proposed changes include a reinvestment in American manufacturing, as well as tackling climate change. On the COVID-19. Front, improve testing and a safe reopening of schools are parts of Biden’s plans. In contrast with President Trump. Biden says he plans to ask governors to institute statewide mask mandates. Healthcare has also been prioritized. President Elect Biden supports expanding the Affordable Care Act and creating a public option. He also plans to rollback tax cuts for corporations. specific policy changes aside, according to chairman of the DC Democratic Party, Charles Wilson, a change was also at the forefront of the minds of many Biden voters.

CHARLES WILSON
I think people elected Joe will come up because they wanted respect in the White House and someone who respected the rule of law and the, you know, the ability to to peacefully protest and have a difference of opinion and not feel like You’re going to be ostracized. I guess they have the expectation that we’re going to be more civil to each other, not necessarily agree on every issue but at least respectful respectable that we can hopefully ease racial tensions. And and just, you know, there’s some sense of, like calmness, like, you know what the person in charge is God we can trust is going to do a good job and do what’s in the best interests of the American people.

SAMANTHA JILL ANDERSON
President Elect Biden may face challenges putting his policy plans into place, should the republicans maintain their majority in the Senate. The Georgia runoff election in January will determine whether Republicans or Democrats have Senate control. Now while popular amongst many voters, Biden’s policies are not without criticism, over 73 million Americans voted for President Trump’s re-election. And many see Biden as a representative of a radical left agenda. This while progressive say Biden’s policies are not progressive enough. As the new administration prepares to enter the White House in January, the President Elect has called for unity. For OTP news in Washington. I’m Samantha Jill Anderson.

GOA ZHU
Thank you, Samantha and we’ll be right back after a quick break.

GOA ZHU
Thank you for sticking with us and welcome back to a special coverage and the aftermath of the 2020 presidential elections between Biden and Trump. One question remains in everyone’s minds. Why did so many Americans still vote for Trump? Although there is no one right answer, here are some explanations we found. According to Pew Research, the pre election polls in the US made clear that Biden would win the popular and electorial vote over Trump. Although that became true the election was much closer than poll suggested tightening races and several swing states, two tenths of a percentage points and 12 battleground states here in America, many polls over estimated democratic advantage by an average of about four percentage points. This means that state polling errors mirrored the 2016 presidential elections and were extremely similar to the past 12 presidential elections. James Hamblin, a reporter for the Atlantic suggests that Trump focuses on a winning vibe in order to garner more supporters. Trump markets himself as an alternative to the scientists and the doctors so more people would listen to him during the coronavirus pandemic. People’s need for support and stability are real. And apparently Biden failed to meet those needs in the eyes of many of the voters. It’s worth noting for the sake of clarity that while the economy has always been a driving factor, it was the Coronavirus that won the day in this new cycle. Some of the reasonings for Trump’s 2016 presidential win still carry through to this year’s election cycle. According to the Virginia Gazette. Many of Trump’s supporters agreed with Trump’s stance on strengthening border enforcement. They objected to the president and Justice Department interceding on the scales of justice when racial incidents were involved. And great concern a liberal judges and justices appointed to the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court, Oren Cass executive director of the American Compass wrote, election results determine who govern us they do not tell us who we are. America was an is the nation that elected George W. Bush in 2000 and made Barack Obama a two term president. The lesson to learn from this election is that whoever you supported, about half of your fellow citizens felt otherwise, neither vilifying nor costing to them will change any minds.

MORIAH MCREYNOLDS
It’s a scenario we see so often that it almost feels routine now. Whenever a vacancy opens up on the Supreme Court, seething political battles are waged over the nominee. These battles seem to have become increasingly heated over the last five years or so culminating into some of the most bitter Supreme Court confirmation hearings in recent memory with justice Cavanaugh in 2018. And now justice Barrett and 2020. There are several factors that have led to the combative nature of these confirmation hearings. legal scholars argue about which one is the true catalyst Elizabeth Beske, a law professor at American University argues that while the bitterness is nothing new, Mitch McConnell’s decision to block President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, it’s one of the biggest factors

ELIZABETH BESKE
which would have been better served to have you know, famous That they were dotting their eyes and crossing their T’s and then voting him down. The novelty is just not even pretending that he wasn’t in a Machiavellian way trying to cheat.

MORIAH MCREYNOLDS
The move was unprecedented. Paul Schiff Berman, a law professor at George Washington University, and former clerk to Justice Ginsburg warns that the consequences of this decision could be dire.

PAUL SCHIFF BERMAN
Mitch McConnell’s approach creates the possibility that we will never again have a judge who could ever be appointed by a president from one party and confirmed by a senate controlled by the other party. Which means in theory, if we never have the same party controlling the presidency and the Senate, we could slowly have no judges left.

MORIAH MCREYNOLDS
But McConnell is not the only factor to consider here. The politicization of Supreme Court nominations began well before his rise to power. Many argue that the nomination and ultimate rejection of Robert Bork in 1987 was the true catalyst as well as the rise of the Federalist Society that followed shortly after.

PAUL SCHIFF BERMAN
Conservatives saw that as a wake up call, the purpose of the Federalist Society was to make sure those kinds of nominations never happened. Again, they’ve looked for warriors in a political war. And they’ve really viewed the courts as an arm of political partisanship.

MORIAH MCREYNOLDS
Although Beske believes all this began before Bork was even nominated.

ELIZABETH BESKE
I would peel it back to Nixon putting the courts on public radar screen as an overtly political campaign. that then becomes by the time of Bork, you have single issue voters, the GOP makes a huge push to champion the single issue that focuses public attention on a soundbite that everybody can understand.

PAUL SCHIFF BERMAN
One question will be over time, if there’s a big disjuncture between where the Supreme Court is and where the American popular consensus is, we may see the Supreme Court lose a certain amount of institutional legitimacy. Because after all, the judiciary only works to the extent that people are willing to follow what they say.

GOA ZHU
We are back. But before we go, our executive producer Ivy Lyons had a few notes to add to an already long running less, but the pandemic race and this election cycle, they are also an officer with Georgetown Society of Professional Journalists, and continue to work with our small but closed staff. Ivy?

IVY LYONS
Thank you so much for that Goa. Now I am in Virginia, the entirety of our staff has been spurred out not just across the United States, but in parts of Canada and Greece and so many other places. And I wanted to thank them on this episode, but also to talk about the things that we’ve been discussing this whole year. As students and journalists as people who are going through our education and making sense of the world around us, we have been struggling to understand exactly what it is that makes up news. More specifically, we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of a few ethical dilemmas. How are journalists presenting the news? When do you know you can trust things? We’ve seen a lot of great student journalism that’s been covered on our project and outside of our project and news outlets in the United States and around the world. We’ve had the benefit of international correspondence, and student journalists, students, former student leadership and so many other people who impact the way that we report and what we do for DC TV for our own personal branding and in collaboration with other sponsors. For our educational experience, especially for those of us who don’t have access to a particular type of broadcasting education, this became an outlet in the DC area. For us, it became a way to actually challenge substantial understandings of national news. And we’re proud of it. And it’s for that reason, and for so many other reasons that we stopped. We went to produce videos that would go on DC TV, go out online, put together our branding, and we had to stop. The Coronavirus took over the way that student media was covering the world that they lived in. Because students were at home. You are not in the comfort of a studio on even Georgetown’s campus. Where I call home, you aren’t in the comfort of a student studio on our main campus or satellite campus, you aren’t getting these videos from any sort of new digital experience. Instead, you’re receiving videos, like many of those who are on dctv, from phone cameras, from late night hours and conversations over FaceTime. And that is where the most impactful things have happened. Here is Matthew Bernico, discussing podcasting as a new form of media for journalists, let’s take a look

MATTHEW BERNICO, PH.D.
-Creates some barriers to write like that. But something that you think about with podcasting, and journalism is the timeliness of it. You know, the thing about podcasts is that, you know, you they, they’re only it’s hard to do, like breaking news or something, or it’s hard to stay timely with your with your content. It’s only as timely as you can turn the podcast around, right. So you, if you if you have a podcast, and you’re doing sort of like current events or whatever, you better have a very good and dedicated team of people who are producing and editing that podcast, because your content will only end up being as good as, as you know, they can turn it around and how fast and getting kind of get it out. So like there’s that. But I think what you’re saying to some of it that I guess what I hear you saying and what I think is true is that podcasts are really cool for journalists to use, because it lets you put like more of your own voice and personality into the work and like you can connect with people via podcasting in ways that you cannot be the written word, right? Like, it’s one thing to read something like phenomenologically, you’re sitting there, you’re staring at a screen or a piece of paper or whatever, you’re reading it, it’s great. But like to hear someone’s voice, like enunciating and speaking it to you is something like very personal. It’s such a weird thing like this is I guess, like some more the philosophical background of like thinking about media, but like, you know, the act of putting headphones on and listen to a voice in your ears, like, I mean, think about, it’s like, you know, someone’s like whispering whatever into your ears, it’s like a very, it’s a very personal moment, actually. So there’s like this moment, this way that that podcasting is embodied in a way that journalism, or that written journalism is not and then can make these connections that you couldn’t make otherwise. So I think there’s that, you know, so so people can make these deeper connections with journalists themselves. That’s one thing. The other thing too is that audiences can make deeper connections with the sources, like the people that you’re actually that you’re actually making the media about. So like, audio journalism, like gives you the affordance of presence, I guess, is what I’m trying to say embodiment, presence, whatever you want to say. So you know, you’re writing an article, for example, for you know, whatever publication, that’s cool. And you know, you’ll grab a pull quote from somebody, and you’ll put it in there, and it’ll be powerful or whatever. But in audio, it’s awesome. Because if you’re doing like produce documentary style, audio work, or even if you’re just interviewing somebody, right, you have that person’s voice there. And the the truth of it, I think, is stronger when you hear someone say it rather than just, you know, you saying or hearing and writing. So I think that there’s a whole rhetoric and persuasiveness to podcasting, that I think is kind of overlooked by a lot of people in media, but it’s powerful. I mean, you hear a really well produced piece of audio recording, you know, you hear someone’s voice saying something you know about their struggle or what they’re going through or the story, it really connects with you. And I think that’s important.

IVY LYONS
And coordination is part of this project. And as part of a larger project, we got the chance to utilize some information that was gained through the Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Georgetown University. The second consideration that we made were ethical considerations, and we talked with ethics professors. We talked with Georgetown University’s own, the Lisa Smith Barrow, and Carol Feldman, who is the current Faculty Director over at Georgetown University and also teaches ethics for the Georgetown master’s program. We wanted to ask them both a similar question one, what should journalists be doing as far as price is concerned as far as the ethical considerations that need to be made are concerned? And two? What are we doing moving forward? What who are journalists? And do we know how to define a journalist?

DELECE SMITH-BARROW
part personal and partly determined by our peers? I consider myself a journalist but also my peers consider me a journalist. I think it’s a two way street. Because there I think you can be a writer, but not be a journalist. You know, you can be a photographer but not be a photojournalist. But I think people who are following the core tenets of journalism in terms of being accurate, being fair being balanced. I’m being honest, leaving your opinion out of it. I think those are what makes you a journalist. And I think you almost in some ways, you have to kind of show you can do that. You can’t just say, you know, I’m a journalist, you have to show it. And I think that’s where your peers kind of come in. And they can say, Oh, yeah, you’re doing it right. Or they might say, well, this isn’t, this doesn’t quite seem to be journalist journalism, this seems a little bit more subjective or something else. I don’t know if there needs to be a higher barrier to entry actually think it’s pretty hard to get into the industry,

CAROLE FELDMAN
I think, you know, as the least said, you know, you know, for someone to be a journalist, they need to, you know, abide by a set of rules and standards. Anyone can do tweet out, information can tweet out a statement. But how do you know that that statement is true? So with a journalist, if you have, you know, an reputation and an organized organization behind you, it helps to establish your credibility that you can that you can trust the information that that person is providing.

IVY LYONS
Now, that’s a lot too lay on you. This is our last recording for the year. We recorded this episode in 2020 as part of a special and we wanted to record a ton of specials while we were in the heat of the Coronavirus, because this matters, all of these conversations matter. All of these conversations will have long term impact on how we view the world that we live in. We wanted to make sure that we recorded it because journalism tends to be a first draft of history. And because of that tendency, we also invite you to continue talking with us. I am beyond grateful that my friends gave me this platform and that I get to share it with them. And we look forward to continuing to give student journalism a voice in the DC area and around the world. But as for right now, my name is Ivy Lyons and Goa, thank you. Thank you for that.

GOA ZHU
Thank you so much for joining us today. Feel free to look online for our supporting documents. And of course to join this riveting conversation. I’m Goa Zhu and this has been another OTP Washington special report for air on DC TV.

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