This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Media representatives from around the world will descend on Philadelphia next week for the Democratic National Convention. Among them will be Rob DiRienzo, 21, a rising senior and journalism major at Temple University.
“I’m terrified,” he admitted recently. “Not that I can’t do the job, [but] that I’ll be so overwhelmed with seeing people I grew up with on TV, on nightly news every night, working alongside me.”
DiRienzo is an unabashed journalism nerd. When he was a little kid, he built a TV studio in his basement using toy blocks just so he could slip down there every morning and read the newspaper aloud in his best faux-anchor voice.
“To get my foot in the door, to have the credential around my neck, to be vetted by the Secret Service and say, ‘Yeah, he’s a member of the press,’ to be an actual working member of the press at a high-profile event like this, it’s beyond words for me,” DiRienzo said.
Each night during the convention, DiRienzo will file reports for KTVA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska.
DiRienzo’s transformation from eager journalism student to Alaska’s man-on-the-scene at this year’s Democratic convention came courtesy of Temple DNC News, a novel reporting collaborative dreamt up by Temple University’s School of Media and Communication.
The concept is fairly simple. Scads of media outlets across the country would love to have boots on the ground in Philly, but can’t afford it. Temple, meanwhile, educates dozens of journalism students who crave the chance to cover a big-ticket event. Match one with the other and, voila, you’ve got a reporting partnership that could be the first of its kind.
“If others have done this, we didn’t know about it,” says Karen M. Turner, associate professor of journalism at Temple and one of the project’s founders.