By Kevin Heim
I made my first trip to the White House on Wednesday for the Twitter Town Hall, and despite my best effort to contain my excitement, I was geeking out. From the moment I set foot on the White House grounds, I knew I was in for something cool. It turned out that Scripps Howard News Service intern Vignesh Ramachandran and I both were going to cover the event, so we agreed to share reporting duties.
Our first stop (after the guard house where the guard made a “that’s what she said” joke), was the famous briefing room in the West Wing. We found the Scripps Howard seat in the briefing room and took touristy pictures of each other in front of the podium. For a short moment, we were most definitely interns. After that, we buttoned it up and acted like the professionals we are.
After a quick pre-set in the East Room to see where we would stand during the event, we waited around some more in the briefing room. To pass the time, we started trying to pick out which reporters were ones we knew from television news, and which ones we thought were interns. At 1:30 p.m., it was time for us to move into the East Room for final-set before the event started. Vignesh and I raced the other photographers inside for a spot near the middle and were able to snag a pretty respectable spot near dead center.
Once President Barack Obama entered, camera shutters were clicking like cicadas on a hot summer day. For an hour straight, I snapped photos of POTUS responding to everyday Americans’ questions pulled from Twitter. I witnessed Obama’s first “live Tweet” from an event, something that might be one of my “I was there when …” experiences.
Once the event was over, Vignesh and I took more touristy photos – this time in the White House driveway. After getting yelled at by the guard (he thought we were visitors, not members of the press), we quickly left and came back to the office to sort through the 735 photos I took.
When it was time to write the story, I decided to use the service Storify because it lets users pull in Tweets and other content from across the Web. Weaved in with my traditional story were the actual questions asked as well as Obama’s verbatim answers and his answers condensed into White House Tweets. It proved to be a unique and visually interesting method of telling the story. Storify liked my story well enough to feature it on the site’s homepage and sent out a Tweet telling people to check it out. Suffice to say, Wednesday was an amazing whirlwind of a day.