On Wednesday, March 13, TommieMedia not only covered history but made history. TommieMedia’s chief studio producer, Caroline Rode, took a photo of a seminarian’s reaction to the appointment of Pope Francis I that was picked up by the Associated Press and distributed globally. The photo ran in several publications, including the Washington Post.
This was the first time a TommieMedia photo has been distributed globally by the Associated Press.
TommieMedia advisers and executives put a plan in place late last week for TommieMedia’s pope coverage. Included in the plan was an emphasis on covering any events on campus upon the selection of the pope. Students on each news shift were prepped and ready to go with cameras and video cameras and stayed alert to capture the events of the day.
Moments after the white smoke appeared in the chimney in Vatican City on Wednesday, several TommieMedia reporters got to work, looking for these "moments." Caroline Rode captured a shot of a skating seminarian – Nathaniel Binversie carrying a papal flag – rushed back to the newsroom, and downloaded her cell phone picture into the photo editing station. Executive director Hannah Anderson loaded the image to the site within minutes.
Once it appeared on the site, Dr. Mark Neuzil, the adviser on duty and a former AP reporter, called Associated Press Minneapolis and alerted Doug Glass, the news editor, to the picture. Glass went to TommieMedia.com, liked the image and asked that it be sent to AP Minneapolis. Rode emailed the image and a cutline. Glass, who called the photograph "outstanding,” sent it to AP Chicago for editing and color correcting.
Editors there liked it as much as he did and judged it to be worthy of the international AP wire. It went globally to all members of the Associated Press around the world, with a credit to Rode, TommieMedia and identifying St. Thomas as its location – all in about 30 minutes.
As one can imagine, there is a lot of excitement surrounding this accomplishment, especially for Rode. “I didn't think it'd go as big as it did. I mean, global AP wire? It's a reporter's dream come true! And especially for me, being such a young reporter, what more can measure up to this?” Rode said.
Having a photograph sent globally by the Associated Press is not only an exciting accomplishment for TommieMedia but also a credit to the growth and depth of the student-produced, online news organization.
A slideshow of campus celebrations and complete TommieMedia coverage of the pope's election can be seen here.