Live reporting from the Notre Dame commencement

President Obama at yesterday's commencement. (CNS/Christopher Smith)

President Obama at yesterday's commencement. (CNS/Christopher Smith)

Congratulations to Our Sunday Visitor and the editor of its newsweekly, John Norton, for his live Twitter stream yesterday from the Notre Dame commencement. John was present in the convocation center at Notre Dame and provided fascinating, minute-by-minute coverage of the graduation ceremony, which featured President Barack Obama giving the commencement address and receiving an honorary degree. You can review John’s feed here.

Why does this matter? For one, it’s always better to have a trained journalist reporting from the scene. Sure, you also could have watched a live video feed from the event, but if something happens off camera you’ll miss it, at least at first. And even then, the primary focus is on the stage. Having a reporter there gives the reader a better sense of the entire scene, not just what the camera picks up.

It’s also nice to be able to follow an event like this when you’re not at your computer. I was in my car a good chunk of yesterday afternoon returning home from Pennsylvania, but I was able to follow John’s Twitter feed on my BlackBerry without having to wait for a radio report at the top of the hour. And even then, the two-minute radio segment didn’t give me the depth of what was happening at Notre Dame, even if John’s Twitter stream was limited to 140-character chunks.

Did anyone else have a similar experience? Let us know below how you felt about the coverage of yesterday’s commencement.

UPDATE: I also should have mentioned that Heidi Schlumpf from the National Catholic Reporter was also live at Notre Dame. You can read her blog posts from the commencement here and here.

SECOND UPDATE: Another client of ours who was there, but as a parent of a graduating senior and not as a reporter, was John Feister of St. Anthony Messenger magazine and You can read his reflection on the ceremony here.

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11 Responses to Live reporting from the Notre Dame commencement

  1. BarbaraKB says:

    John did I fine, objective journalistic job w/his tweet stream.

    I enjoyed his @ reply to someone explaining the tradition of ND architect grads to place building on their mortars (See pic from @markknoller. I wish John would have used twitpic or tweetphoto. Love the visual.) John did give insight when protesters were literally removed from the speech, which was not obvious on the live feed.

    And yet,Twitter during a live streamed event like ND commencement is about opinion and, once again, Twitter is popular because people choose to follow objective information but they also use Twitter to read opinion, receive feedback and respond. I am not stating that John should have offered opinion in his stream but I have seen other journalists & bloggers engage more with their Twitter stream.


  2. M.L.Welz says:

    I had to take 2 tranqs. to get throught this bama travesty on my religion.

  3. Tim says:

    You can claim to be a Catholic but if you don’t follow Catholic beliefs you are only a Catholic in name only. Is that a cafeteria catholic?

    President Obama is pro-abortion which is directly opposed to Catholic beliefs. Catholics believe abortion is murder. President stood up and said we all need to work to reduce the number of abortions but his actions say the opposite. Funding for abortions internationally, funding for abortions in D.C. and of course his executive order on stem cell research. It was like watching Hitler being invited to talk a a Jewish service and watching him say we should all try and love the Jews as he is having them sent to be killed. Actions not the mouth show the heart.

  4. margaret says:

    I thought Norton’s news feed was great. I like the play by play approach. It makes one feel as if one is there. Well done!

  5. jeanne jeanne says:

    Flawless analogy, Tim!
    “President stood up and said we all need to work to reduce the number of abortions but his actions say the opposite. ”
    Like Hitler saying, We need to work to reduce the number of people incinerated in ovens”. Murdering millions of babies has been legally going on for a quarter of a century. He and others speak as tho it started yesterday.

  6. SammyBoy says:

    I can understand inviting President Obama to a panel discussion or even a debate at “our Lady’s” University. That action would be the begining of a dialogue. Inviting one of the most pro-choice Presidents in history to give a commencemnet speech and then receive an honorary degree? That is not the begining of a dialogue;well unless,Father Jenkins plans to invite the President back for a paenl disccusion or a debate? No, probably not. Its might be time to get back to basics. Father Jenkins might be better suited to an Associate Pastor position in a small parish.
    My son and my money will not attend ND (for it is no longer “Our Lady’s” university. The Frnaciscan University, Ave Maria University, Dallas Universtiy are places of CATHOLIC learning. Let US start sending our children there and let ND die off via lack of funds.

  7. Livia Fiordelisi says:

    What a strange bunch of disciples reflected in the commentary. Hate-filled too.

  8. There is a lot of acrimony over President Obama’s appearance at the Notre Dame commencement. I had hoped that it wouldn’t happen because of the reasons expressed in the press. Yet, it did happen. So, without the aide of any reporters or pundits, I watched the address on television and listened carefully. Personally, I was uplifted by the president’s grace and his honesty.

    Obama cited many of the ills that we are dealing with in today’s world and challenged the graduates to make a difference using their education and talents. This is standard fare for commencement speeches.

    Also, he focused extensively on the abortion issue, which surprised me. After hearing him out, I feel hopeful that we can make progress toward eliminating abortion altogether, but that will come gradually, perhaps incrementally. We have to start somewhere, yet never lose sight of our ultimate goal: to create a culture of life. If we take a patient, loving approach our goal may be achieved sooner rather than later.

  9. J. B. says:

    It was interesting that AZ State would not give a Honorary Degree to the president, when he spoke, since he had no track record. But ND was all to ready to give out that honor. Especially to one who has been against some basic moral teachings of the Catholic Church. It seems AZ has higher standards and teaches more critical thought.

    Speeches are nice and inspiring, but what really counts is what happens later. We already had examples of speeches not making the walk in the last 80 years.

    The other noticeable thing is the deafening silence of the Catholic Bishops Assc. One has to wonder where many of the “shepherds” who guard the flock are?

  10. patrick b., says:

    notre dame and pro-abortion are now permanently linked as compatriots. notre dame, by allowing the 05-17-09 travesty to occur, has totally and completely aborted its catholicism. it now remains an anti-life proponent in a sea of choices that prospective and current students, as well as catholics in general, must make. its quite sad that the speaker was even received well. both the speaker and jenkins both took aim at both the pro-life cause as well as the catholic church in general, flipped them off and spit upon them.

    what is there to dialogue on the issue? abortionists love abortion. they line up pregnant females with the sole intent and purpose of killing their unborn children legally.

    abortion is murder without consequence.

    the camp also includes others who love euthanasia euthanasia supporters love euthanasia. they are in favor of allowing others to decide when, where and how people die due to an arbitrary concept of ‘quality of life.’

    in ‘pro-choice,’ the only choice involved, involves the conscious murder of another innocent human life for any reason or no reason at all, without legal consequence.

    …and people will even be forced against their will to actually participate in such heinous activity.

    …and yet those who remain ‘pro-life’ are made out to be the bad guys, the kill-joys.

    i guess to continue the dialogue, i’d look next year for notre dame to ask dr. k. to be their commencement speaker. after all, adolf hitler and joseph stalin are no longer available.

  11. Rev. Michael J. Newman, SDS says:

    I hope all will read the text of President Obama’s address at Notre Dame. To those who are upset that he was invited — why did they give a pass to the Bush administrations, Clinton, and the other presidents… they were not pro-life in the strictest sense of the word — they agreed that abortion was OK in some cases… which is against Catholic belief.
    I say rreducing abortions, reasons for abortion, adoption policies and other root causes is the answer. It is easy to just work at changing a law… but difficult to change hearts. Murder is illegal — and it is still happening. I think the President is on the right track… let’s give him a chance. It is most distressing to meet college students whose parents tell them that if they get pregnant in college that they are not welcome into their homes. (25 years experience in campus ministry). I do not believe anyone to be pro-abortion… no one likes sit — but everyone wants to diminish it. That’s a start… “Rend your hearts not your garments.”

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