Oct 27, 2009

My life as a political reporter: One-on-one with Shannon Valentine

by Amanda Sullivan

                                                                                                          Editor’s Note: My intention is not to offend or disparage any one party. I am simply relaying my experiences from the past two weeks of political reporting.

Lynchburg and Liberty University have recently come to more easily recognize a couple of names. Those names belong to the faces of Delegate Shannon Valentine and Dr. T. Scott Garrett. Both individuals are running for the House of Delegates. In an effort to give Champion readers an unbiased view of both candidates, I requested an interview with each party.

Garrett responded quickly and offered to do the interview on the spot. Valentine, on the other hand, took more convincing. At first, a face-to-face interview was arranged and later cancelled. Her representative then told me that Valentine would complete an e-mail interview and turn it by the Champion’s deadline of Sunday at noon. Sunday’s deadline arrived and in my inbox sat an e-mail from Valentine’s representative explaining that she was too busy to respond because of various other commitments. At this point, I was extremely baffled because Valentine had actually initiated the conversations by requesting to purchase a full-page advertisement. In previous years, the Champion had not been permitted to run political advertisements and the opportunity was not lost on the staff.

Because Valentine did not respond to the interview questions, the Champion staff decided to give her another week to answer. Honestly, a daily newspaper would not have waited but we were striving for fairness. In the meantime, the editorial board ran an article written by Mitchell Malcheff that analyzed Valentine’s voting record.

Tuesday afternoon after the paper was printed and distributed, Valentine’s representative called me. She was not thrilled with the article. I suggested that we meet for an interview so that Valentine could answer the interview questions and combat any accusations she felt were untruthful.

I first met up with Valentine in the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall because it was there that she was scheduled to meet with students. Valentine greeted me with smiling face that quickly turned down to create a frown. During the first few minutes of talking with her, I was shown a different side of her personality, which the general public is not privy. Valentine claimed that her reputation would never recover from the comments printed in the paper — the student newspaper.

She claimed that we attacked her character and her faith. I explained to Valentine that I was sorry she felt that way, but it was not the intention of the article. I told her that we simply wanted to break down her voting record for readers. It was then that she told me that neither Malcheff nor myself knew her and consequently did not know why she had voted in certain ways. At this point, people were becoming concerned with the scene that was unfolding in the cafeteria. I suggested that we meet in the Champion office when her “meet and greet” was finished.

To be honest, I was terrified that we would stumble across a mistake that had been overlooked. Once in the office, Valentine and her representative requested the meeting be “off the record,” so I am not at liberty to divulge the information revealed. However, all the claims made in Malcheff’s article now have two sources of reference, one of the sources was personally suggested by Valentine.

I have learned a great deal over the past two weeks. I have learned how to maintain my composure when dealing with difficult situations. I have also learned the importance of how a person’s actions can have the ability to contradict his or her words. 

Valentine encouraged me to make sure that I am living a life of integrity, which was excellent advice. My suggestion for Valentine would be for her to examine her own life in the same manner. My reasoning for the aforementioned statement stems from the fact that Valentine told me she tends to vote more conservative than liberal, which her voting record does not reveal, according to my review of the Virginia Assembly’s Web site.

My advice to you, the reader, would be to do your own research. Don’t take my word for it. Take a few minutes within the next week to analyze each of the candidates’ voting records and character, and then show up at the polls to vote.

Contact Amanda Sullivan at amsullivan3@liberty.edu.
 


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