Saint Anselm College Students Experience the Post-Debate Spin Room

February 13, 2020

By Anna Brennan-Curry

While the candidates were debating each other in Sullivan Arena, on the other side of campus, journalists from around the world were stationed in the Carr Center, which served as the home of the media filing center and spin room. With over 400 desks for journalists, reporters from all of the major television networks, and ABC’s panel of expert journalists and past politicians, the entire room was waiting for the moment the debate would end.

There were small moments of excitement during commercial breaks when media would scramble to get a read from the experts in the room about how the night was going, but most spent the time watching the debate, taking notes, and enjoying the brief calm before the storm.

Once the debates ended, the spin room got into gear. Candidates and their surrogates arrived to make their case and were immediately surrounded by reporters looking to get their questions answered and quotes for their stories.

In the midst of all of this, were dozens of Saint Anselm students, all experiencing the excitement in different ways. Two reporters from the Saint Anselm Crier, communication major Janelle Fassi ’21 and psychology major Kati Gardella ’20, had credentials and were conducting interviews throughout the debate. Fassi, the Crier’s news editor, maneuvered into the center of the action and got Senator Amy Klobuchar on camera for a brief interview about the importance of the youth vote.

“I loved meeting so many journalists and being able to see the process of the candidates being interviewed after the debate,” shared Kati Gardella, Opinion Editor of the Saint Anselm Crier. “The atmosphere of the media filing center was so lively while we were watching the debate.”

In the center of the action were eight students getting the experience, and workout, of their lives holding up signs with the candidates’ names for members of the press to question both the candidates and their surrogates. A number of these students work for the college’s Conference & Events team that managed the debate planning process, so they had the opportunity to see the end of the months-long planning process.

“I had a wonderful time working alongside those in the news media and political fields, and I am quite thankful for the opportunity,” shares Cole Corcoran, one of the students holding the signs. “The highlight of my night was meeting Attorney General Maura Healey [Massachusetts] and having the opportunity to be immersed in political discourse surrounding the 2020 election!”

“This whole experience was such a great opportunity! I had no idea what to expect and how much work all went into one show that you turn on the TV, watch and turn-off. The spin room was especially really neat as there were tons of people writing away and watching the debate intently,” explains Caitlyn Callinan. “The best part was when my assigned candidate, Tom Steyer, walked out of the barricades and all the media attacked him like fish in the sea.”

While all of this was going on, two nursing students, Kaitlyn Morin ’22 and Emily Abbott ’22, stood by as members of the Saint Anselm College Emergency Medical Service ready to take care of any medical needs that might arise.

Other students, interns at ABC and the other networks, stopped by to get a glimpse of the room, and by 12 a.m., the room was once again quiet, ready to be broken down to return to its work as a gym.