In February, Huffington Post's OffTheBus called for field contributors to send in short videos demonstrating that they have what it takes to cover this year's political conventions. The eight winners, who come from varied backgrounds but shire a distinctively un-Beltway point-of-view, will have travel, lodging and expenses covered by HuffPost, with four joining the news team at each convention.
"As technology has helped millions join the global conversation, we've gone from the Boys on the Bus to a brave new world where anyone can break an important story," said Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of HPMG. "I'm delighted that these eight community reporters, by bringing their unique insight and perspective to the campaign, will be joining HuffPost's mission of going beyond the one-dimensional horse-race aspect of election coverage."
OffTheBus 2012 is a Huffington Post initiative enabling readers to work with staff to cover the 2012 elections through the lens of their own communities. Field contributors participate by writing news stories about political issues or local election events, or by sending in examples of how the campaigns are reaching their towns. The chosen winners of the contest represent a diverse group of individuals who want to provide viewers with a more thorough picture of the conventions and tackle the issues that citizens care about most.
The winners and their video submissions:
Judah Robinson is a 19-year-old New Orleans native eager to participate in a presidential election for the first time. He is an aspiring multimedia journalist seeking to be a voice for the country's youth.
Krzysztof Piotrowski is a first-generation American filmmaker from Chicago who has followed the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country.
Pamela Powers Hannley is a political blogger and activist known as "The Tucson Progressive." She is also the managing editor of a medical journal.
John Wellington Ennis is a filmmaker from Los Angeles who has directed a number of documentaries and comedies, including the political satire Wild Girls Gone, starring Amy Poehler.
Mario Núñez is a third-generation Tampa native and executive producer/host of a popular public access television show interested in exploring the jobs crisis, immigration issues, and the role of Florida in the upcoming election.
Jessica Wilt is an arts education administrator in New York City where she is actively involved in arts, education, and health-related advocacy and politics.
Daniel Simon is a recent college graduate and journalist who covers politics and culture and is concerned with how our country's leaders are planning for future generations.
Randi Revill is a part-time reading instructor at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama. Her personal struggles with the job market have led to a passion for figuring out how the jobs crisis in America can be alleviated.
Winners will receive expert training and support to become effective and knowledgeable Ustream reporters. That training will include a series of four live and interactive video sessions on topics including: best practices for storytelling and interviewing, technical tips and tricks, and the art of covering political conventions. In a live press announcement last month, Arianna Huffington and Ustream CEO Brad Hunstable announced the partnership, which will incorporate live-streaming videos from Ustream journalists on Huffington Post breaking news pages.
The Republican National Convention will take place in Tampa Bay, Florida from August 27-30, and the National Democratic Convention will be in Charlotte, North Carolina from September 3-6. In addition to travel and accommodations, winners will also receive access to Huffington Post resources at each site. Their reporting during the conventions can be found at www.huffingtonpost.com/news/offthebus and www.ustream.tv/huffingtonpost.