Obviously this is a couple days late given the title, but considering what it was I still felt like it’s worth talking about.
On Halloween, months of build-up and anticipation finally exploded at Cal State Fullerton when Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak. It was a long, long road starting from the first story I put together at the end of August when his visit was still in the works.
A road filled with a variety of stories from me, my co-editor Brandon, all our assistants and whoever else in the newsroom contributed that tackled all sorts of topics: The process getting him to come, the responses from campus and anyone writing us letters to the editor, all the resolutions that were passed, following local schools that decided to close because of his visit… On top of so much more.
Pretty insane stuff, and there was a lot of tension that I didn’t even realize was as intense as it was until we got to the very end. Seriously, the last week or so before he came had me more nervous than I ever thought I would have been considering my feelings during the months leading in.
Then the day came, and everything felt like it was over in a flash.
Okay that’s not entirely true, it was a very, very long night all things being equal. But our team planned things out well in advance and handled everything masterfully. Probably the first thing that really lead to our success was Brandon’s decision to check us out a secondary home base in the Pollak Library, somewhere more centralized that we could use to pop in and drop things off without having to cross campus and make it to the newsroom.
From the library we were able to hit everything, and we had teams all over the place.
Some of us were covering the Unity Block party, which was put on by Students for Quality Education and a number of on-campus organizations. The event was meant to be a peaceful, educational alternative to everything going on, and for the most part it kept that up quite well, there were only a few instances where some small arguments had to be broken up.
On top of that, the Block Party had speakers like Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva come out, so it was pretty interesting in that regard. Amy and Breanna handled that coverage well, and just about everyone got to chip in by wandering the quad and taking in the sights and people.
Unfortunately, all of the fairly good vibes and low key energy from this event made it arguably the least newsworthy part of the day. There was a hell of a lot more that happened.
The main event was, of course, Yiannopoulos speaking. That was the part I focused my energy on. After all, I’ve built a strong rapport with the College Republicans club, and as a result I got to get in free and sit with the press alongside our Photo editor Katie.
Oh also, our Social Media editor Megan Maxey was there too. She just happened to be in the regular seats because we could only get 2 media tickets, so she was there with a regularly purchased ticket.
Despite being probably the only print-centric reporter covered by a wall of massive video cameras for broadcast, I thought it was an awesome opportunity. I got to see people working from ABC7, CBS2/KCAL9, FOX11 and a whole bunch of other places – and I got to work alongside them.
Sure, I didn’t get to dress up for Halloween this year, but I did dress up quite a bit better than usual knowing I would be surrounded by professionals.
With my Tascam audio recorder plugged into the microphone at the front of the room and my laptop out ready to transcribe, I got through the whole hour of Yiannopoulos’ speech without a hitch.
I’ve heard stories of Milo and how… Controversial his talks are, to put it plainly, but it was definitely a whole different experience actually hearing him in person while seeing a crowd raucously cheer and agree. Sure, I might not personally agree with a lot of what he said, but it was definitely a fascinating thing to witness.
With that audio and a few basic interviews with a College Republicans club representative and Chief Communications Officer Jeffrey Cook (who I ran into a number of times at the event), I was able to pull together a long article highlighting the breadth of things he talked about. I thought it was a really strong article, and generally I seem to have gotten agreement on both sides of the aisle for that.
To be honest, one of my favorite things about this whole experience has been seeing the internet take the same basically informative article and run in completely different directions with it.
I even showed this off to Walt Barranger, a former New York Times editor and CSUF alum who now teaches at the university. He thought it was pretty hilarious.
All and all, I’m frankly just glad I was able to put a story together that wasn’t universally bashed in some way based on this controversial subject matter. That’s a win in my book.
These two stories weren’t even everything, however.
They didn’t cover the protests, which were a major part of the event. Really major in fact, as just about every news organization was leading with the headline that 8 people were arrested the next morning.
Brandon handled the blunt of the writing for this third piece, but just about everyone contributed to it, just like everyone around helped with the Unity Block Party. After all, there was so much to tackle that it really did take an army.
It didn’t just take an army however, it took a wildly committed and talented army. That’s definitely the kind of team we have. At least three reporters for the Daily Titan got hit with pepper spray over the course of the night, but they all picked right back up and kept going to get the stories.
It was incredibly inspiring to watch, and it was equally inspiring getting to work with everyone for probably over 15 hours on this one event. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of what I do and who I do it with than I am seeing everything we all put together.
That sentiment doesn’t just go to the writers either. Megan and her assistants killed it on social media by live tweeting almost anything and everything going on to give our audience a play-by-play of events that night. Our photographers got some of the most gorgeous pictures I’ve ever seen, clearly tempered by the heat and pressure of the day. On top of that, anyone who wasn’t involved in the coverage of Milo got all the other work for this paper done in a timely manner that facilitated the rest of our work, and it was incredibly appreciated.
The paper itself still took until like 3:00 a.m. to finish… But in this case, that late deadline was really worthwhile.
In the end, everything came together beautifully. We got a hell of a lot of traffic based on our Milo coverage, and by the time I got to campus the next day at 11 a.m. or so, all the papers were already cleaned out of our racks across campus. Between that and all the praise we received on social media and in person, we were all glowing with pride.
Oh, and we’re also going to be coming out with a special souvenir version of the paper next week on fancier paper and with extra photo spreads to commemorate it, since we ran out of the papers so fast on day 1. Look forward to seeing that, I know I will.
You may think the story is over there, but you’d be wrong. After all, I also mentioned the radio in my headline here. You didn’t think I would forget about that, would you?
Part of what made this event so special to me was that it offered me a brand new opportunity. The producer for Take Two on Southern California Public Radio (89.3 KPCC) reached out to the Daily Titan and asked if we wanted to have someone on their show the morning after Milo’s talk to do an interview about it.
As the person who arguably has been following the Yiannopoulos visit, I decided to take him up on the offer.
So, after making it home at 4:00 a.m. or so, I got up again at 7:00 a.m. to prepare for an interview at 8:00 a.m. Needless to say I was pretty exhausted later, but it was oh so worth the effort.
My segment on Take Two lasted about 5 minutes or so, and you can listen to it here. I had a really good time representing the paper and getting to flex my knowledgable muscles a little to talk about the build-up and the reactions to the speech.
Plus, experiencing radio as a whole was an interesting experience in its own right. For some inside baseball, they had me talking to the host via a landline phone while I recorded myself talking through my cell phone. All while I was underneath a blanket.
The extra effort putting together my audio made it so it sounds more like I was in the studio talking in person. Though it was weird, it definitely worked wonders. The audio in the piece sounds great, and I had people reaching out to me from all over saying I did a great job.
Okay, now that’s everything I have to say on the matter. Sorry this is such a long one, but I really felt it was necessary to capture the complete experience that was covering Milo Yiannopoulos. All of my pieces, as usual, can be found on the right, and I even included the cooperative pieces with mine just to give credit to the whole experience where it’s due.
I also added in my story about the conclusion of the ASI Board of Directors meeting from a week and a half ago or so, since I forgot to before. That story is long and drawn out in itself so I won’t go into it here… But reading the article should give a good idea of why it was so crazy.
On top of that, I’m adding a new section to the archive side of my blog for my radio appearance. Who knows, there may be more in the future, and I’d love to see that expand in the near future too.