Manship State House Bureau Reporters | LSU Manship School of Mass Communication

Manship State House Bureau Reporters

photo: caitie burkes

Caitie Burkes

Hometown: Slidell, La.
Major: Mass Communication with a focus in political communications
Year: Senior, (December 2017)


Why did you want to participate in the Manship School News Service Statehouse Bureau? 

Professor Shelledy was my first college professor and is still one of my favorites. He approached me about getting involved with the Statehouse Bureau. After hearing about the students’ experiences from last year, I immediately jumped on it. It sounded like a rare opportunity that I would only be offered in college.


When reporting at the Capitol, what is a typical day like?

It depends on what's on the agenda for the day. Professor Shelledy will send an email out with everyone's assignments, usually the night before, and we'll come into our press room about 30 minutes before our first meeting starts and look over the bills they're debating or anything else the legislators will be discussing. Then, we sit in on the meeting or session, or whatever is it we're supposed to cover, and take notes. Then, we go back into our room, crank out a story and Shelledy edits it and puts it on the wire for different news outlets to pick up. We may only write one story a day, or we may write a few, depending on how packed the schedule is.


What news outlets have published your stories? | Times-Picayune, The Houma Times, Best of New Orleans/The Gambit, The Eunice News, The Monroe News Star, The Town Talk. I might have missed some!


What has the experience taught you?

It's definitely taught me to do my homework and never walk into a situation without knowing at least as much as everyone else in the room. The more prepared I am for anything, the better.


What is the best part of your experience covering the Legislature? 

Being in the State Capitol, the legislators are easily accessible and I get to be on the scene as they make key decisions for the state. I feel more connected to state politics because I'm physically in the state political hub at least twice a week, and that's probably the best part of it for me.


Why should students, both current or potential, be interested in the Manship School News Service Statehouse Bureau? 

Louisiana has such a unique political culture as it is, but with the TOPS saga that's going on right now and the state budget crisis, it's such an interesting time to experience the hand-shaking and verbal sparring that go on behind the chamber doors and explain them to other Louisiana residents.


What are your goals/hopes for life after LSU? 

I would like to go to graduate school and pursue a master's degree in journalism, and maybe work as a communications director for a legislator.


Would you rather be a journalist or a politician, and why? 

A journalist. I like the behind-the-scenes work that journalism entails and I don't think I'd enjoy being front and center.