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Students Usher in Nashville’s New Mayor with the Tennessean

During Thursday night’s election coverage, the Tennessean’s newsroom was busting with activity from reporters, photographers, videographers and a team of four Belmont students selected to join Opinion and Engagement Editor David Plazas on the night’s activity.

Juniors McLean Pillon, Kirk Bado and Hayden Rutledge and senior Jonathan Joyce wrote candidate profiles, participated in Belmont’s Nashforward debate series (the city’s premier mayoral debates co-sponsored by the Tennessean and WSMV-TV ) and rounded out their election experience with live coverage of the city’s race.

As polls were coming in, the team sat with Plazas individually, on a Tennessean.com live stream, to discuss campaign strategy, the city’s growth, areas of focus for millennial residents and which candidate earned their vote for mayor. In between interviews, the team collectively participated in a podcast that covered their desires to stay in Music City, as long as Nashville can adapt to its exponential growth.

Kirk Bado with David PlazasJunior politics and public law major, journalism minor and editor of the Belmont Vision Kirk Bado said the opportunity to work with Plazas and the Nashforward team engaged his passions in a new and powerful way. As an aspiring journalist and political science student, Bado said there was no better place to be on Nashville’s election night than the Tennessean’s newsroom.

“Experiencing election night at the Tennessean has grown me so much as a journalist and as an engaged member of the community. As a journalist, being in that live setting and watching how they manage all levels of media really changed the way I’ll be doing stuff at the Vision,” Bado said. “But in a wider sense, the whole experience with the Tennessean, from all the way back in March, has really plugged me into the Nashville community. After it, I am better equipped to engage and transform my community through writing and civic participation.”

Plazas said he and his colleagues were interested in the students’ involvement in election coverage because of Nashville’s growing millennial demographic. Representing such a large portion of the community’s residents, the panel of students were able to speak to top of mind issues for voters and learn something about journalism along the way.

“The students’ youthful energy, curiosity and elation at spending election night in a newsroom was a joy to watch. They could view the results in real time as our journalists frantically checked the Davidson County Election Commission website constantly, made phone calls to candidates and updated readers on mobile and desktop so the phones were abuzz with push alerts and tweets,” Plazas said. “They demonstrated poise and professionalism in their video interviews and podcast conversation. In the end, they did solid journalism.”