Journalism student Betia Rodrigues had the opportunity to shadow Newstalk FM journalists covering the 2020 General Election. Here, she tells us about her experience.
Last Saturday (08 February 2020), Irish citizens had the opportunity to continue having their voices heard by choosing TDs to represent them in the Irish Government. Ireland’s general election for the 33rd Dáil is considered historic and I was able to witness such a relevant event for the Emerald Isle.
It was the first time in history that voters left their houses on a Saturday to cast their votes in a General Election. In previous years the polling day took place on a Thursday or Friday. Besides that, surprises came up. Parties that did not have many representatives in the Dáil ended up holding a considerable number of seats.
I was assigned to assist journalists from Newstalk FM in the count centre Citywest, where counting of votes ballot papers from four constituencies (Dublin Mid-west, Dublin South-west, Rathdown and Dún Laoghaire) was being held. Not even Storm Ciara was strong enough to prevent the media from covering the General Election results.
When I arrived at the venue, I was assigned to walk around the centre and document the opening of the boxes and the tallymen with their avid vision and extreme focus to observe every second of the ballot boxes as they were organized by the official counters.
One of my responsibilities consisted of trying to talk and take pictures of some candidates that were present at the count centre. I had a brief encounter with former senator Katherine Zappone and watched first elected TD to Dublin Mid-west, Eoin Ó Broin (Sinn Féin), walk around the room helping the tallymen to get provisional results. In addition, I was responsible for sending updates from the tallymen to the journalists so they could share on social media websites and keep people informed about everything that was happening on such an important day for Irish citizens. Throughout the day, my role involved recording and taking pictures of the candidates as they entered the centre and waited for the results. It was crucial to capture single moments of the outcomes such as winners’ reactions after knowing they had just become TDs.
It was a wonderful opportunity for me to put into practice my MoJo (Mobile Video Journalism) skills learned in one of my modules from the MA in Journalism and Media Communications course I am enrolled in.
I was also able to promptly act when something worth broadcasting happened. I developed such skills after Newsday tasks assigned in the first semester. Those exercises consisted of writing news reports and features after spending a day covering events around the city and experiencing what a day in the life of a journalist looks like.
I am profoundly grateful for managing to help the Irish media cover such a relevant event like the General Election 2020. Those moments will be eternally in mind and I am confident that many others will come.