CNN Paid Me to Watch the Debate

Posted: January 28, 2020 | By: Sarah Herring Tagged: Blog

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Jan. 12, I was emailed by the CNN Special Events Unit asking for my help as a runner for the presidential debate on Jan. 14. I was asked to work the 4-11 pm shift and told to wear professional attire. In a follow-up email before my shift, I was asked to go to the law library to fill out a W9 form and CNN runner guideline document. When I arrived at the law library, I sat in a classroom to fill out the form as a projection of CNN’s pre-debate coverage was playing in the background. Two of the staff members in charge of the volunteers came into the room to explain the policies and roles each volunteer was assigned to. All of the volunteers then stood up and we left with our assigned supervisor and went to Sheslow Auditorium to tour the debate stage and go to our assigned spots.

I was assigned to be an usher in the balcony and my supervisor showed me and three other volunteers the sequence of rows she wanted to fill. After we were shown the balcony space, we had 30 minutes of free time to take photos of the auditorium and the debate stage. During this time, I explored the stage and it was amazing. I was able to walk through the seats of the VIP section to see where the candidate spouses, DNC chair Thomas Perez, and Al Sharpton we all seated. I also was able to see the desk where the moderators would be seated and got witness CNN reporter Anderson Cooper reporting for the pre-debate coverage.

When it was 5 pm I went back to my assigned spot and the doors opened to the public. Working as an usher was super simple and my supervisor helped with the process. There was little to no mix up in the seating as people entered and left the balcony to use the restroom or to view the debate stage downstairs. Once the pre-show began the volunteers were able to move downstairs to fill in open seats on the floor to watch the debate. I had a perfect view of the stage and had an amazing time watching the debate. Opportunities such as this are the reason why I chose to study politics at Drake. I could never have expected that I would have the chance to see a presidential debate live or even imagine being paid to work at one.