Barry McNamara  |   Published July 12, 2016

Covering the convention

Monmouth group, led by Angotti, to report on GOP convention in Cleveland
  • Balloons fall during the 2012 Republican convention. (Photo by: Jae C. Hong)
Two students will cover the upcoming Republican National Convention in Cleveland for Monmouth College, and they couldn’t ask for a more qualified guide – former NBC Nightly News executive producer Joe Angotti, who is now a distinguished visiting professor of communication studies at Monmouth.

Jacob Marx ’17 of DeKalb, Ill., and Gareth Cordery, son of former Monmouth College history professors Simon and Stacy Cordery, will join Angotti in Cleveland July 18-21, where the four days should be anything but dull.

“I covered so many dull conventions,” said Angotti, who was at NBC for the presidential elections from 1976 to 1996. “There might be some action and excitement at this one.”

Indeed, the Monmouth group is counting on it. Marx’s focus will be to follow protests at the convention and talk to protesters, particularly those of college age. A political science major, Marx will be the political editor this fall of Monmouth’s student newspaper, The Courier.

“He and Gareth have already been in contact with college students from groups who will be demonstrating,” Angotti said.

Marx said he has spoken with representatives from the Occupy movement, who plan to protest “police brutality,” and Cleveland Jobs with Justice, which is concerned with issues related to “welfare and equality.”

He said he became interested in politics during the 2008 presidential campaign and was later encouraged by a high school civics teacher to pursue political science as a college major. Marx, who spent last spring on Monmouth’s Washington Semester, studying politics at American University, hopes to study for a master’s degree in public policy or campaign management, and he also might pursue a path in political journalism.

Cordery, who will attend Middlebury (Vermont) College this fall, will focus on the Illinois delegation. He will join Marx and Angotti in writing a story at the end of each day, reflecting on that day’s events. Their blog entries can be found at They will also be posting to The Courier’s SnapChat account (MCCourier), and they’ll be interviewed each day by Monmouth radio station WRAM/WMOI.

“Something else I’d like the students to get out of this is to hear and understand some of the rhetoric that’s used at the convention – not just the speech that (presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald) Trump will make on the final night, but more so the many other speeches during the convention,” Angotti said.

Angotti secured the media credentials for the group through the Republican Party’s director of media, a former colleague. He will use another connection – his longtime friendship with Tom Brokaw – to land an interview for the students with the former NBC Nightly News anchor.

Angotti said that one of his favorite convention memories occurred at in 1980.

“The entire press corps was very nearly stampeded by the unfolding possibility that Ronald Reagan would choose Gerald Ford as his running mate, creating a ‘co-presidency,’” wrote Brokaw. “Gov. Jim Thompson of Illinois was wearing a Reagan/Ford button. Dan Rather was reporting it as a done deal. There was a certain amount of pressure to be sure we didn’t get scooped, but Angotti held off, and we were the first to report that Reagan shut it down.”

Angotti also recalled another NBC convention scoop from 1988, when reporter Andrea Mitchell learned of then-Vice President George Bush’s selection of Dan Quayle as his running mate “about six hours” before anyone else had it.

“Scooping” the national media, on a smaller scale, is something else that Angotti hopes will come from the students’ experience.

“We’re going to do stories that maybe won’t be reported by the media giants,” he said. “Stories that people from this area will be interested in.”

“I’m really excited, and a little bit nervous,” said Marx, less than a week before departing for Cleveland. “There hasn’t been a convention like this since the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968. This has a chance to be like that, because of how controversial Trump is, and because there are so many people in his party who aren’t behind him.”
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