Rachel Elsberry- Covering Political Familes


Elsberry started her 2 p.m. presentation in Old Main by having the audience sit on different sides of the room based on political affiliation. She explained why she made the audience move with a news clip. It showed two neighboring families with different political views. One was Republican and the other Democrat. The reporter didn’t mention his political view on screen. Something Elsberry considers important.

“As journalists, we have a responsibility to vote, but we also have a responsibility to remain unbiased,” Elsberry said.

She said that being a good journalist is having the ability to be curious about the world and asking questions constantly. She said if you’re not curious about the world, then journalism isn’t for you.

Elsberry’s primary job at News 8 Austin was to cover the death of Lady Bird Johnson. For seven years, she planned the coverage of her funeral.

“I equate work in a newsroom to working in an Emergency Room. You see people at their best and people at their worst,” said News 8 Austin’s Rachel Elsberry.

Coverage of the funeral was then shown. The clip was raw footage and showed a few photographers getting in the way of some of the cars.

“There are no rules about how TV is produced, as long as you don’t spell anyone’s name wrong or slander or libel anyone. Normally, when people fresh out of school get into a job, they assume there are all these rules because that’s what your taught. That isn’t really the case once you’re out there. Don’t be afraid to tell a story that way,” Elsberry said.

Elsberry has been working as a producer and a reporter for 15 years. She currently works at News 8 Austin as their Special Projects executive producer. She also produces coverage of the Austin City Limits.

“I started out as a tape editor working 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. and I was terrible at it,” Elsberry joked.

“But, I was good at writing and producing stories, so eventually I started producing my own show.”

She ended by giving advice for future journalism students.

“You have to be an organized, forward thinking person. You need to see the train coming into the station before it actually gets into the station.”

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