Emmy-winning, veteran journalist Prof. RD Sahl led a team of journalism students covering the canonization of two 20th-century popes. Sahl tapped broadcast journalism students Kirsten Johnson (COM’14) and Matt Younis (COM’14) to travel to Rome with him for five days, joining the thousands of journalists from around the globe covering the historic event in Vatican City. Their work was published on the Boston University News Service website and syndicated on CatholicTV with the help of COM alumnus Father Robert Reed (’12).
As BU Today reported:
The BU journalists plan to focus their coverage on local reaction to the canonizations: stories in the works include interviews with Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, former Boston mayor Ray Flynn, who was US ambassador to the Holy See from 1993 to 1997, and a former member of the Vatican Swiss Guard who was John Paul II’s personal guard, as well as profiles of some of the 50 local seminarians from Blessed John XXIII Seminary, in Weston, attending the canonization.
This wide variety of stories requires a special attention to detail, something that Sahl is an expert on after a lifetime of reporting. To organize coverage of this magnitude, he says, he keeps all of his information together in a massive three-ring binder with six tabs, neatly storing papers with travel arrangements, interview logistics, and important phone numbers. “My former colleagues in television would always have great fun with me,” he says. “They knew it was serious if I had a bible like this.”
Despite the planning, Sahl has stressed to Johnson and Younis the importance of taking advantage of chance-met opportunities for an unplanned story, saying that a reporter never knows who he or she could run into.