How foreign reporters covering swing states viewed Election Day 2012

by Margaret Looney
Oct 30, 2018 in Specialized Topics

The results are in: whether interviewing a fence-sitter or someone who bleeds Democratic blue or Republican red, there's no better immersion into American political coverage than reporting from a swing state during a presidential election.

Stationed in battleground states, 50 foreign journalists are reporting for their home news organizations and live-blogging the U.S. presidential elections as part of the International Center for Journalists' Elections 2012 Visiting Journalists Program.

IJNet asked them what it's like to be a foreign reporter covering a swing state:

Tarek Mrad, Tunisian radio journalist with Express FM

Covering his own country's democratic transition in 2010 enabled Mrad to spot a few similarities in the process as he oversees poll results in Kent, Ohio.

“I'm quite assured that it is as tough here as in Tunisia, to fight against rumors, false claims, misleading figures," he said. "I'm impressed that media here have such an impact on public opinion that a simple debate can pick up the game of a candidate."

His previous experience covering elections prompted him to ask thought-provoking questions of his hosts at WKSU public radio. "Coming from a different environment, my questions helped them reconsider some evidence, and revisit certain events through a different angle," he said.

Nicole Best, reporter with the Caribbean Media Corporation in Grenada

Best is spending Election Day 2012 alongside the Miami Herald visiting as many precincts as possible to try to capture the mood of the day.

“I want to be able to talk with people before they go in to vote about what they are feeling. I want to talk to people after they have voted; to get a sense as to why they voted the way they did.”

The current vibe in Florida is “quite edgy," Best says.

“At this stage the votes can swing anywhere...we could see all sorts of developments in the days following the Tuesday Election. We could see the state of Florida not being called on the night of elections...we could see ballot recounts in the state,” Best muses.

But her reporting hasn't focused only on political maneuverings. The highlight of her trip so far: “interviewing a group of sorority sisters who were marching in black dresses and pink corsages with pink tape across their lips, to encourage people to vote."

Paul Filippov, Russian radio journalist with Komsomolskaya Pravda

Working alongside New Hampshire Public Radio reporters in Concord, Filippov was also eager to capture the political fervor in his coverage.

“It's definitely exciting--being able to cover a story like this, being able to witness the news as [it takes] place, having an opportunity to see those who people give their votes to,” he said. “And it has also been very useful to breathe the same air with the nation, feel its ups and downs and understand what the citizens' decisions are based on.”

Photo CC-licensed on Flickr via DonkeyHotey