Cassandra Semyon, KLN ‘18, will be spending next summer in Washington, D.C. working directly with MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell. Semyon was hand selected by Mitchell as part of an independent study program.
Semyon, who majors in media studies and production, spent last summer interning at ABC News in Washington and was anxious to find a way back to the capital. She was hoping to work at the D.C. bureau for NBC news, but she couldn’t figure out how to apply. Professor Paul Gluck, the general manager at TUTV and Semyon’s mentor, was able to help. “[Gluck] found someone who knew someone and got me the email that I needed to apply,” said Semyon. She got the information just a day before the application deadline.
A week later, she had an interview. That wasn’t all though. Semyon also had to complete a written test with research scenarios; for example, looking up and making a list of every gun shop in Birmingham, Alabama—without using the internet. Two weeks later she got a phone call from Andrea Mitchell’s executive producer, requesting yet another interview. Semyon said that they asked about her work at Temple, and at TUTV, and ultimately, she got the job.
Semyon will be working directly with Mitchell, who is also the chief foreign affairs correspondent at NBC. Mitchell has covered presidents from Carter to Trump, and has her own daily show called Andrea Mitchell Reports. Semyon will support all of Mitchell’s projects, including production on the show, and conducting research to keep Mitchell informed when she travels for reporting.
Semyon’s mentor isn’t surprised that she’s been chosen for such an impressive assignment. “In any process in which Cassie is involved, sheer determination is the primary force,” said Gluck. “She’s someone who has had an amazing interest in leveraging the kind of experiential learning that’s available at Temple.”
“It became apparent to me that being able to observe and study a operation like NBC News in Washington while on site was a perfect vehicle for an independent study,” Gluck said.
Semyon agrees that the opportunity has put her on track for the future she wants. “I want to be a political correspondent, and that’s not something that just happens overnight,” said Semyon. She knows that her time at NBC will give her a chance to get her feet wet, make important connections and learn first hand from one of the most accomplished women in the field.
“You can’t be the best without learning from the best,” she said. “And Andrea is really well respected. Her leadership and guidance will help me figure out where I need to go next.”
It is an unusual and difficult time to be a political journalist in the United States. “Her observations will be heightened because of the contentious times in which we live, and certainly the tumultuous relationship between government and media inside the beltway,” Gluck observed.
Semyon, for her part, isn’t worried about the difficult climate for political journalists. “Right now it’s such a powerful time to be a journalist,” said Semyon. “Especially a woman in political journalism. Right now women hold a lot of power in journalism, and you have to recognize that power, and use that power to cover the stories that you want to cover.”
“In terms of our political climate,” she continued, “you kind of just have to keep your head down and do the work. Ignore all the chatter and just get to the true heart of the story. Even though it’s a tough time, we’re seeing some of the best stories that we’ve seen since Watergate. This is a great time to be a journalist if you’re willing to put in the work.”