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Sun November 11, 2012
Reporter's Notebook: A Chance Election Night Encounter
Something happened to me on Election night. It’s not worth of a formal story. It’s mostly anecdotal. But I felt it important to tell anyway.
I was stationed at the Democratic watch party at the Freight Depot downtown, working alongside lots of reporters, producers, and photographers.
For a quick second, I took a glimpse up from my laptop screen, and I saw a smiling woman nearby approaching.
“My name is Hella Hueck. I work for RTL news.”
RTL is a national TV network in the Netherlands. Hella needed my help. Because the limited resources RTL has here in the US were assigned to big Republican campaigns, the network was scrambling to cover what was starting to look like an Obama win.
Hella happened to be in Atlanta on a fellowship with CNN. And her network back in the Netherlands asked her to find Democrats. Any Democrats. So she ended up here.
"The majority in the Netherlands and other European countries, like Germany for example, would favor Obama," said Hella.
Standing in a small circle were me and WABE producer Myke Johns, Hella, and a volunteer from the Democratic party.
While we waited for an official spokesperson, the conversation turned to what else? The election.
"But, for example, have you ever heard of Geert Wilders?" asked Hella.
Um, not exactly.
Hella went on to explain the politician is considered right-wing in Europe, despite being a staunch supporter of social programs.
Political talk soon shifted to shop talk, as often happens when reporters get together.
Reporter: "I have a question. What is your take of the way media report this election and this race here in the United States?"
Hella: "We're always amazed how extensively you report."
She said elaborate TV news sets and graphics, for example. But what she says next struck me, and it hasn’t left me since.
"But we don't really have this media bias discussion that you have in the United States. And I hope that it's not going to come. Because in the end, you'll have a problem with democracy if people perceive the media as being left- or right-winged," said Hella.
That's a big statement.
Just in front of her, a huge screen airs MSNBC.
Across town at the Republican gathering, Fox News punctuated the evening.
I had to get back to do a live report during our election show. So we parted on that note.
Like Alexis de Tocqueville nearly 200 years ago, it took an outsider to sum it up best.
Turns out Hella has a master of laws degree and postdoctoral work in journalism.
I’m curious how her report turned out.
And I guarantee I scrutinized all my words Tuesday night just a little bit closer.
[You can find Hella on Twitter.]