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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

The Waiting Game



That was the theme of the day for me.

Perhaps it was the fact I stood in line for nearly two hours just to get my press credential and then go through a metal detector en route to Alumni Park. Perhaps it was the fact the rally started an hour and a half late. But it felt as if I was waiting all day.

Tick Tock.

Granted, I was excited to be reporting live at the first presidential visit to campus since the 1980s. That may have made my wait time feel longer.

When I arrived at press check-in I got my first taste of how hectic this whole event was going to be. Security had trouble distinguishing who was press and who wasn’t and herded several of us off to the side for a while only to realize that we were press and needed to get in as soon as possible. Then, we had to wait even longer while bomb-sniffing dogs checked over a pile of cameras and tripods. Those dogs looked extra fierce. A few of the people in line were hesitant to go through the metal detector after seeing those canines on the other side.

Finally, I got through the gates and could go to the press riser in the middle of Alumni Park. For the next hour and a half I kept asking anyone I could find when the rally was actually going to begin.

Every couple minutes someone would walk to the podium and a hush would fall over the crowd. But these were merely false alarms.

Tick Tock.

All that standing and waiting made me hungry, but being in such a rush early in the day I didn’t have time to pack anything to eat. Fortunately, a group of school children on a field trip who were standing just in front of the main press riser had extra sack lunches. And yes, they gave me one. It only had carrots and oranges in it though, much to my chagrin. Apparently someone had wanted an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwich and snagged it from my bag.

The kids were probably a little more patient than I was. They were just as excited to see Obama though. The only difference was they could show their excitement – as a member of the press, I merely acted as if this were a routine event for me. Maybe someday it will actually feel that way, but today, I was pretty excited.

In between stand-ups and conversations with my co-host, Alex, I kept looking over my shoulder toward Bovard Auditorium, where the president was rumored to be waiting. Allegedly, some members of the media around me had seen his head poking out of Bovard earlier. I didn’t see him.

Tick Tock.

Then, one of the coolest parts of the day - a gunship and a helicopter flew right above us while my co-host was doing a standup on camera. I’m not going to lie, I wish I had gotten that standup. I would have loved to have gotten something like that on my reel. I had just finished a standup of my own though and it was Alex’s turn. Those are the breaks.

After that, more false alarms. A few of us in the press area found in funny how people would start to cheer when someone completely unrelated to the event would walk by the podium. Everyone wanted to kick this thing off. And everyone who walked near the podium could have been that catalyst.

Tick Tock.

Finally, the rally started. I had a few more standups and another memorable experience as a young journalist under my belt.

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