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Curled up on the living room floor, eyes full of anticipation, I awaited the results of the 2012 presidential election. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were familiar, as I had met both as a little girl attending the Iowa caucuses. While waiting to see if they would serve another four years, I was also waiting patiently to see the outcome of another race, my dad’s reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives. Inevitably, as any rational 11-year-old would, I fell asleep before hearing the results. When I awoke, I sensed a somber mood in the house. My dad had lost.

I didn’t realize my dad's disappointment that night until I interned for the U.S. Senate. Seeing numerous incumbent candidates lose their seats after the midterm elections, I realized there is always a fear that every door you knock on, every parade you walk in, and the obscene amounts of literature you hand out will not be enough. Although politics is divisive, I’ve learned that what brings us all together is not just what we believe in but how we might be more alike than we think. Everyone has a story, which I would aspire to tell when reporting on the presidency.

A journalist covering the presidency should strive to ignore flashy stories and tap into the emotions behind every president's decisions. I used to think the presidency was a sacred position, as I learned from my dad how hard it was to even achieve state office, imagine the highest position our nation has to offer. The digital world has made us increasingly insensitive to differences and quick to judge, making it impossible to expose humanity in the presidency and easier to create our own narrative, whether positive or negative, true or false.

As a journalist, I would strive to maintain the roots of journalism through investigative reporting, while utilizing slower timelines to complete a thorough story. We need to develop healthy habits to pass to future generations of journalists, habits that don’t adhere to the timeline of technology but rather the standard tactics we were taught in journalism classes. It’s what takes place outside the oval office and sometimes at the dinner table that will bring the American people closer to who the “leader of the free world” really is.

Using these tools and goals, I would strive to create a comfortable environment that allows politicians to give us a glimpse of who they are beyond the suit jacket and flag lapel pin and share a bit of their most vulnerable selves. Hugh S. Sidey looked past political affiliation and told the story of each president he covered. From Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush, he let the public gain their opinion through accurate descriptions of the president’s political and personal lives. I would strive to continue Sidey’s legacy by covering the presidency the way I wish my dad and many other hardworking politicians were covered, with honesty, integrity, and humanity.

Anna Olson

Anna Olson is a senior at Iowa State University majoring in journalism and political science. Anna has been heavily involved on the ISU campus serving in various roles with Student Government, Women in Pre-Law Club, First Amendment Club, Honors Program, and the Iowa State Daily. Along with leadership roles, she works as a supervisor for ISU Rec Services, a front desk associate for Greenlee School of Journalism, and was featured as an ambassador for her college on Amazon Prime’s series, The College Tour.