As part of my ongoing coverage of the recall primary for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, I covered the debate between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett in Milwaukee last night.
I’ve been to a number of debates over the past four years, but this one was by far the most contentious and intense I’ve seen. Witnessing it unfold live probably added to the tension, since audience members had to do their best to hold their emotions in check during the debate. There was a palpable uneasiness in the room.
Mike Gousha’s questions and discussion style really benefitted the debate I thought. Especially compared to presidential debates, the candidates weren’t given vague softball questions — each candidate was pressed to directly answer the questions.
Besides the content of the debate, taking photos of this event was pretty fun. Unlike the AP, Getty and other newspaper photographers, I get to have a little more freedom with what I choose to photograph and the angle I photograph them from. That has advantages and disadvantages (the biggest disadvantage being the vast majority of my photos won’t run), but creativity at an orchestrated media event is always fun.
As you can tell, I love the behind-the-scenes sort of stuff. The teleprompter, the make-up, the awkward chit-chat between the candidates before the debate…it’s all great. For some reason, the general public rarely gets to see what goes into an event like this. I understand the staging and setup for broadcast news, but I’ve never understood why more papers don’t run photos from another angle not seen from TV broadcast.
Like just about everyone in Wisconsin I’m looking forward to what will unfold on June 5. Fortunately I get to be right in the middle of everything.