By Eddie Ameh
When I had the email confirming me for this internship, I was excited because I knew I would be covering events at the White House, but when and which event was another issue.
I covered the inauguration, but covering the White House and inauguration are two different things. When the event appeared on Monday’s schedule of news events, I knew my colleagues and I were going to jostle for who was going to cover it.
I was surprised my colleagues were not interested in covering it. Not because they were not excited to cover the White House but because it was sports.
The Miami Heat basketball team was being honored by President Barack Obama. Thank God, I love sports.
Indeed, basketball is quite a popular sport in Ghana, and Lebron James has a huge following in Ghana. My editor finally credentialed me and I was set for my first official White House event. After going through the security checks, I was bound for the East Room of the White House.
For a first time reporter at the White House, I surprisingly felt at home because I was lucky to have some experienced reporters who engaged me in conversation. I therefore had no problem setting my tripod in place during the “preset,” as some of the experienced reporters were kind enough to show me a spot where I could get the best pictures.
When Obama visited Ghana in July 2009, the closest I came to meeting him was on television. I took pictures of Obama at the inauguration but from a distant angle.
When he entered the East Room, I made sure I was not overwhelmed by his personality into becoming a spectator, but as my editor tells me all the time, “Take as many pictures as possible.” I did, and it helped. The event took less than 15 minutes, and so I never had the opportunity to take notes. I listened and was lucky to be sent a transcript of the president’s speech by Scripps Howard News Service reporter Bart Sullivan. I was also lucky to have one of the photographers take some shots of me in the White House.
Even though it was a very short event, I took photographs of the man people call “the most powerful man on Earth,” and he was less than 20 feet away from where I was.
One lesson I learned was to always engage people in a conversation when I get to a place for the first time. They were of tremendous help to me.
I don’t know when I will be there to cover an event again. Even if I don’t, one thing is certain: I was at the White House, and Obama stood 20 feet from where I was. I never paid to see the Miami Heat, neither did I have to travel to Hollywood to see actress Gabrielle Union, who has been dating Heat player Dwyane Wade. Don’t I love this job?