(L-R): SMC students Danielle Nelson and Sofiya Ballin, royal family fan Teba Diatta, and SMC student Sydney Friedmann pose with a celebratory cake.
Amid news crews from all over the world waiting for birth of the royal baby July 22 were four School of Media and Communication students out to cover the big event, too.
They were among the 27 Temple University students currently studying in London as part of the SMC Study Away Program.
But even though the assignment was for a class project, the student journalists took it as seriously as the hundreds of professional reporters on the scene.
Rush to the scene
When news broke that Kate Middleton was in labor, the students, Danielle Nelson and Sofiya Ballin (the reporters) and Courtney Coombs and Sydney Friedmann (the camera crew), headed right to St. Mary’s Hospital. Prof. Jack Klotz assigned them to cover the royal birth as part of their weekly culture blog. It will also air on TUTV.
“As is the case among here in the U.K., there were some students who showed excitement about the prospect, and others who were quite disinterested,” Klotz said.
After covering the scene at the hospital, they moved on to Buckingham Palace, where they would await the official announcement, which they almost missed while seeking out a restroom.
“We had been there for hours with no word on the baby and as soon as we started looking for restrooms this woman informed us the baby was born and was a boy,” Ballin said. “We ran so fast back to the palace. Somehow, I made it to the front of the gates at Buckingham Palace.”
The excitement didn’t seem to be completely pervasive among Londoners, though. En route from the hospital to the palace, Nelson watched a woman quickly page through a newspaper that read “At Last the Royal Baby is on its Way.”
“She flipped through a few pages and said to her friend, ‘there are 26 pages about the royal baby’ and instantly closed and folded the paper.” Nelson said.
The crowd at the palace was smaller than Nelson expected.
“Sofiya and I spoke with a producer/director for BCC World/Bravo and he said he was disappointed that there were not a lot of people at the palace. However, when the birth of the baby was announced, around 8:30 p.m., the crowd grew much larger,” she said, estimating approximately 2,000 people crammed outside the gates to see the official proclamation.
Real World Ready
“As a journalism student, the experience was super exciting,” Ballin said. “The diversity of the media outlets was incredible. There were stations from Australia, India, South Africa and America all there marking their territory and waiting to get the first shot of the royal baby. What was also great was that people were really receptive to us, regardless of the fact that we were not from a major news station.”
The students did man-on-the-street interviews, asking the crowds at the palace and the hospital why they were excited about the birth.
“They were excited about answering our questions and the other journalists treated us with respect and actually seemed to admire our zeal,” Ballin said.
After about 16 hours, the team had its story.
“It confirmed that I can do this with my life and that, though it can be very, very stressful, it is extremely exhilarating. We came back that night on cloud nine because we knew we just partook in history and that we could in fact be amazing, world-changing journalists,” Ballin said.