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9/24/2015 9:00:00 AM
STUDENT JOURNALISTS
Saint Rose reporters cover papal events
BY KATHLEEN LAMANNA
STAFF WRITER

Catholics all over the country have been contemplating what they would ask Pope Francis if given the opportunity during his visit to the United States. For three student journalists from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, that hypothetical question may become a reality.

Victoria Addison, Justin Porecca and Vanessa Langdon -- respectively, the executive editor and news editors of the college's student-run newspaper, The Chronicle -- have secured press credentials to cover the papal events in Washington, D.C.

The Saint Rose seniors, who are majoring in communications, found out about the opportunity from communications professor Cailin Brown.

"The three of us each had to apply separately for media credentials," explained Vanessa. "We began the process months ago [and] were chosen out of 8,000 applicants."

Each student had to fill out an online form, choosing which specific events they would like to attend during the pontiff's U.S. trip. The trio didn't hear that they'd been approved to cover the pope's visit until just a few weeks ago.

"I was in the dining hall eating dinner when I got the email," said Vanessa, who, along with her two classmates, will have to miss class on Wednesday for the events. "I couldn't believe it," she continued.

Only one reporter from any given media outlet is allowed to attend each event. Justin will be attending a morning prayer service at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington; Vanessa will go to the afternoon Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; Victoria is slotted specifically to attend the canonization ceremony for Blessed Junipero Serra during that Mass.

"I'm Catholic, so we thought I could report on [the Mass] with assurance," Vanessa said.

The students left Albany Tuesday night by train. As soon as they arrived in the country's capitol, they planned to check in to get their press passes and gear up for the busy day ahead of them. The Sept. 23 welcoming ceremony at the White House was scheduled for 9:15 a.m.

Although the students were excited to be in press pools with "real journalists," they were also happy to be "right with the people" to get "a better sense of what's really going on," said Vanessa.

Because the welcoming ceremony was a public event, all three student-reporters planned to be in attendance. Victoria and Vanessa hoped to do "man-on-the-street" interviews, talking to attendees, while Justin took photographs.

"I'm not superb" at photography, Justin admitted; "but I can get the job done."

Justin hopes to one day be a high-school sports reporter. He thinks that being able to cover the pope's visit will help: "You don't become great until you build yourself up."

Vanessa is certain that this opportunity will help her with her career goal: working at a newspaper.

Having covered the pope "will help me stand out a little bit," she said. "This isn't just a story about a club on campus; this is real news the whole country is talking about.

"We're going to be shoulder-to-shoulder with other reporters who do this for a living," she said before leaving for Washington.

Although Justin admitted that the students weren't getting their hopes up about edging close enough to the pope to interview him, the students said they'd like to ask some hard-hitting questions about his stance on abortion and marriage equality.

The students planned on writing their articles for The Chronicle on the train back to Albany on Wednesday, said Vanessa, "so it's still fresh in our minds."

(Disclosure: Dr. Brown is a board member for The Evangelist.)





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