Category Archives: Behind The Scenes

McCain on The Daily Show, Journos Chum It Up at Sedona Ranch

Sorry guys, I didn’t actually get to watch this one. Either way, I wanted to post McCain’s May 7th appearance on The Daily Show.

Speaking of McCain, his daughter, the McCainBloggette, is still at the blogging which seems to have taken off. In her March 9th YouTube report, she told more than 75,000 viewers that during a party at her family’s ranch in Sedona, reporters from the Politico brought her mom flowers.

Check out her recent video from a weekend at the family ranch. Is this what Crawford looks like?

And now back to her Dad.

Tim Kash Gives Street Team Highlight Package

Hey Everyone. Just as a quick update, this week MTV will start airing “Best of Street Team” packages. To see it online, click here. Or, if you’re around a TV, I included the times it will run below. I’m anxious to see what my colleagues are up to, so I’ll be tuning in too.

Also, a few of you have asked how to view our work, and I wanted to let you all know MTV links to us from their drop down menu of “Reporters” on the MTV News homepage. Just click on the vertical bar where it says “News” and you see Headlines, Video Updates, MTV Reporters and Street Team ’08.

Sat 3/29- 7:50am
Mon 3.31- 6:50am, 7:50am

Sat 3/29- 5:30am, 10:30pm
Sun 3/30- 10:30pm
Mon 3/31- 4:30am, 6:30am

Fri 3/28- 7:45pm, 11:45pm
Sat 3/29- 3:45am, 7:45am, 11:45am, 3:45pm, 7:45pm, 11:45pm
Sun 3/30- 3:45am, 7:45am, 11:45am, 3:45pm, 7:45pm, 11:45pm
Mon 3/31- 3:45am, 7:45am, 11:45am, 3:45pm

Three Cover Political Races as MTV Citizen Journalists

Last week I received an e-mail from an Indiana University School of Journalism grad student, Abby Tonsing. She was assigned a story — a story on me  and two MTV Street Team colleagues, Sia Nyorker (NJ) and Whitney Allen (IN), also Hoosier grads.

So last weekend I etched out some time between sleep and, well more sleep, to do an interview. It’s just killer having two jobs. But after a story like this, how can I complain?

Three Cover Political Races as MTV Citizen Journalists

Raw is Rare: Chasing the Real Story

There have been times when I’m literally running, twisting through bodies and assembling equipment on the matted mud of the National Mall to swing a story. Then there was last Monday, at American University, where I chased one that I didn’t think I could possibly get.

It was almost 12:15 and I had no more than a half hour to get some footage and maybe an interview before returning to the full-time job. But I hit a road block: I couldn’t get in the rally where Sen. Ted Kennedy would be endorsing Obama. Fuck, I thought to myself… how am I going to tell the story now?

I paused. Composed myself — and headed around the corner to where a congregation of people stood. Now that’s my story.

I heard the echo of a chant which had been captured by the underpass tunnel and I immersed myself.   I had my camera attached to my tripod so I lifted it up as high as I could in the air. It was shaky and a little dark, but at this point, I thought, I had no choice. This would be unpredictably raw — and rare.

They congregated. They chanted. They all just stared as if Barack Obama would actually walk out the front door. It was a phenomenon to watch. Some were curious, others inspired, some just drawn with no other apparent reason but pulled by some kind of silent force.
Can this really be the type of movement that only has happened in the ’60s? Will the momentum continue? His campaign has been one of resilience and persistence, and up to this point — has passed expectation and barrier. 

Santa Lives on Broadway

Towards the end of orientation, my colleague, Sara Benincasa (NY), raised her hand. We were in a Q&A session with a MTV techie–drilling him with technical questions and suggestions for improving THINK.MTV.COM. Finally, Sara was called on.

“Um, yeah, Santa, I have a question too…”

Before he could even smile the whole room erupted in laughter. Sara hit on something we all related to, at least I did. For the last 48 hours, being at MTV studios made me feel like I was having the best Christmas morning of my life. Street Team’s organizers had arranged speakers so open and insightful — that I didn’t mind sitting in the boardroom for eight hours at end. We had presentations that encouraged us to imagine and innovate the concepts of technology and journalism. It was pure candy for my brain.

The next day, after a late night wrap party and probably three hours of sleep, I packed up and went back to DC. I couldn’t wait to get home and unload everything.

The backpack was heavy, and I’m sure meant for carrying survival tools in the Alps. Instead, it holds my equipment – a video camera, laptop, camera, tripod and microphone. Per the request of my most famous friend Lindsay, (my ‘04 ballot bandit) I uploaded some photos. It’s one hell of a sexy photo shoot. Check it out.

Yes, Santa had delivered – and I didn’t even know Christmas was coming.

Street Team '08 Orientation Recap

So I survived MTV’s journalism boot camp which was a few very compressed and intense days in New York City. Here’s a recap of what I wrote to my family and friends.

…Life in DC has been busy since I got back from MTV’s Street Team orientation. It was one hell of a trip, with a visit to the NY Times, a hotel room in Time Square and enough multimedia presents to make a Gen Y blogger cry tears of joy.

Now back in DC, I’m responsible for submitting one story each Tuesday and learning what it means to be a “one man band,” writing, editing and producing all my own work. I have a half dozen manuals to read, software to install and gadgets to learn. But it’s coming along and I’m so stoked to finally start.

Orientation was great because I met the other 50 selected citizen journalists, all of who had a different story to tell. TX is the daughter of illegal immigrants, MA is a Harvard drop out, NY is a comedian and CA owns his own production company. We also had back-to-back industry speakers — AP, Gannett — a NYU Journalism Professor, leaders from the Knight Foundation and MTV VJs John Norris and Sway.

It truly was a boot camp experience but it a inspiring way, leaving each of us charged with telling the untold stories of the Presidential race and bringing together ideas, information and opinions. It wasn’t shocking to learn MTV is the largest youth brand in the world, but it is slightly intimidating. With MTV’s reach, AP’s credibility and the Knight Foundation’s instinct, this could present a huge possibility for a young political movement. We can only hope.

In the meantime, I wanted to pass along a story MTV is running on our time in NYC. Don’t blink or you’ll miss me! ”

1/14 11:50AM

1/13 5:50PM, 6:30PM
1/14 6:30AM

1/13 11:45PM
1/14 4:45AM, 9:45PM, 2:45PM

How Applying to MTV Street Team '08 Came Up

look.jpgHey friends. I want to share what I’ll be doing for the next eleven months.

I work at a communications firm, Spectrum Science Communications, in Washington, D.C. Part of my job is to follow health care policy and report it to our clients. We work across the field (but always in health care) for advocacy groups, non-profits, pharma and biotech companies. It has been a great first job and, fortunately, brought me to the District where I feel at home.

In my heart, I’m a student of journalism and passionate about civic engagement, especially with my peers. It took two years for my best friend in college to tell me she didn’t vote in the ’04 election — because she knew how distraught I would be. She was right, but how could I hold it against her? I knew she was like so many of our friends, and instead of being frustrated, I asked, “what can I do to convince her and others, that it is worth the time?”

So here I am, staring the ’08 election in the face, asking myself what I can do to get my generation of multi-taskers to ask questions and get to the polls. Here is where MTV comes in.

A fellow TriDelta sent me a link last August and said “Erica, you have to apply for this.” So I read about how MTV and the Knight Foundation were pairing up to create a team of 51 citizen journalists, hand-picked to cover the ’08 election from a local level. I knew in order to be considered I needed a web site, so I applied some of the techniques I learned at Spectrum and started Erica-America. I also submitted three essays, called up a few references and hit submit.

One reason I am so enthusiastic about MTV and their THINK campaign, is because I believe in it. I think we share common goals in the desire to harness the power of social networking and multimedia and direct it towards civic action. Can it be done? I’m optimistic and my answer is yes. But the road to get there will be long and not without challenge.

In the next month, I will update everyone on how to receive the Street Team reports. Until then, take care and keep asking questions.

MTV Announces Choose or Lose Street Team '08

MTV, along with the Knight Foundation and Associated Press will be sponsoring 51 citizen Journalists, one in each state and one in the District, to cover the ’08 Election. I’ll be holding down the fort in DC for MTV while submitting (hopefully) some kick ass stories.[youtube][/youtube]

For more information about the program, the sponsors and MTV’s ultimate goal, check out this press release. If you want to sign up for an account on (and you should…) follow this link. Or, just watch this short video I put together last night. I can’t help but grin. It’s a great moment to enjoy while realizing there’s a lot of work ahead.

Welcome to EricaAmerica

EricaAmerica: [er-i-kuh uh-mer-kuh], noun. Display case. Retro take on reporting with modern take of multimedia stories. Effort to inform peers without attention span. Blog number 7116895365. Simply, a place of potential.



Welcome to my website. I decided a month ago after a series of gentle nudges it was time to add a .COM to my life.

I’m fortunate to have people who dismissed my early dissent of blogs and helped me to make one of my own, either by verbal inspiration or technical guidance. I see this as an evolving portfolio. It will also be a central focus as I evolve my idea of reporting by using video and audio.

I’ve been in D.C. for 13 months and have learned to do a lot of listening, which encouraged me in many ways to pursue this. EricaAmerica, and more basically my desire to report, was initiated by a drive to moderate the political conversation between powerful governments and average citizens. I grew up in Indiana and took trips to India, where I was exposed early on to the dichotomy of the world and the unbalance of power and privilege. There were also teachers and bullies, blue ribbons and C+’s, which humbled me, helped me to grow, and added clarity to what I wanted to achieve.

I hope you’ll join me as I let this project bloom.

Erica Signature

For naming me EricaAmerica, thanks Scott Talan.

Jason Novak, thank you for inviting me to write for and for teaching me the fundamentals of Word Press.

Leigh Ann Cairns, for making me feel like I was getting a haircut when you asked what I wanted in a website design. Outstanding creativity.