Emily Friedman ’07: On the Campaign Trail
Taking a rare break from shadowing Mitt Romney as an ABC News reporter, Emily Friedman ’07 pondered her upcoming schedule one frosty afternoon from a Southfield, Michigan, hotel room: “Tonight he’ll have an election-night event; tomorrow we get on a bus early in the morning and drive to Ohio, where Romney will do two events; then we fly on a charter to Fargo, North Dakota; then we fly to Idaho on Thursday; then to Seattle; and on Friday we fly back to Ohio. It’s going to get crazy.”
Operating as a one-person news unit, Friedman shoots video, contributes to a blog, interviews campaign advisers, and serves as ABC’s constantly traveling expert on Romney. It’s a perfect fit for the New York native. “I come from a total news-junkie background,” she says. “I was raised in a household where the newspaper’s on the table every morning; the evening news is on the TV every night.”
At the UW, Friedman began writing for the Badger Herald student newspaper in her sophomore year before becoming deputy editor of its opinion page. Friedman recalls, “We’d write editorials about everything from how much a university had to report to a student’s parents if they were arrested for a DUI, to how the school handed out tickets for football games. People really did pay attention, and that’s why I enjoyed it so much.”
The summer before her senior year, Friedman interned at ABCNews.com in New York. After graduating from the journalism school, she returned to the network, and within a couple of years became a field producer covering hurricanes and missing-child stories for Good Morning America and the ABC Evening News.
Since October, when she began tailing Romney full time, Friedman has been toting around a video camera, tripod, batteries, cables, and her laptop to document the Republican candidate’s every move. “As much criticism as he gets for being awkward and stiff, Romney genuinely likes people and tries to connect with them,” she says.
Friedman shoots all of Romney’s speeches, but her duties as an “off-air campaign digital reporter” go far beyond sending video clips to ABC headquarters. “A lot of times, you press Record on the camera, and as Romney speaks, you’re on your Blackberry taking notes on what he’s saying. If you haven’t tweeted that Mitt Romney told us his tax rate within thirty seconds of him saying it, you get emails, ‘Did you see what so-and-so tweeted?’ And you go, ‘Yes, I was writing an email to tell you about it! I can’t email and tweet and feed the post at the same time!’ ”
It’s a grueling gig, but Friedman has no complaints. “I knew what I was signing up for. I miss my apartment, and I miss having dinner with friends, but at the same time, I have a front-row seat to history,” she says. “That’s pretty cool, too.”
Published in the Summer 2012 issue