4/18/2014 2:34:03 PM

A Student's Perspective: Learning the Write Way

Thursday, December 19, 2013

By Marissa Potts '14

As Co-Editor-in-Chief of Siena’s student newspaper The Promethean, I interviewed two Siena College professors turned authors: Siena College Research Institute Founding Director and Professor of Finance and Statistics Douglas Lonnstrom, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies Thomas Kelly. Their recently released book titled “US Presidents From Awesome to Awful. The Best 3 in a Row & The Worst 3 in a Row” analyzes the success of two presidential trios and the failure of a third presidential threesome.

I am glad I made the decision to interview Lonnstrom and Kelly. It was one of the most personal and enjoyable interviews I have conducted since becoming involved with The Promethean and it helped me develop my reporting skills.

Lonnstrom and Kelly were easy interviewees for a few reasons. Since I’m still learning how to conduct interviews, their approach to the process was welcome. Instead of letting me start by asking awkward questions, Lonnstrom and Kelly began by showing me the promotional video for their book. The video covered most of the basic things I wanted to ask and gave me useful background information. Then, they invited me to sit with them to discuss some details and their inspiration for the Presidential ranking project.

Lonnstrom and Kelly were inviting and well-spoken. They patiently watched me scribble down the notes I wanted to include in the article—things like “Survey has twenty categories,” “presidents uniquely grouped in sets of three,” and “Proceeds to Siena College.” This experience taught me a lot about Siena’s history and American history, but it also gave me the opportunity to interact with Lonnstrom and Kelly.

I enjoyed our discussion about their inspiration for the book and was really interested in learning about the fusion of statistics and history that make up the core of “US Presidents From Awesome to Awful.”

I especially liked that their book explores the relationships between presidents in groups of three. They explained that presidential ratings coincided with major historical events, which include the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the formation of the United States. Their passion for history piqued my interest and inspired me to research further while writing the article.

Overall, I think my interview with Lonnstrom and Kelly has made me a more proficient reporter, given me a better perspective of American history and provided me with yet another memorable experience from Siena College.
If I had not taken the interview for The Promethean, I would not have met Lonnstrom or Kelly, and I am glad I did. Their book provided an entirely new perspective on American presidencies and interviewing them gave me a new perspective on what it takes to be a journalist.

Marissa Potts ’14 is an English Major. She introduced the authors during a recent campus book signing event sponsored by The Center for the Study of Government at Siena College and The Promethean.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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