At the Top of their game

Hofstra’s Pride Productions video production unit worked shoulder-to-shoulder with journalists and networks covering the first presidential debate at Hofstra University.

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On Sept. 26, 2016, Hofstra University hosted the first presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It was the most-watched debate in modern history, but it was not Hofstra’s first time in the global spotlight. On that day, Hofstra became the first university to ever host three consecutive presidential debates.

Submerged in the experience was the student body, namely, student media. On the front lines of election coverage alongside major news networks like CNN and MSNBC was Pride Productions, a group entirely made up of Hofstra students.

Pride Productions Students at Debate 2016

Pride Productions is a student-run club that broadcasts sporting and educational events on campus - live online. The club allows students to work hands-on with state-of-the-art technology in a professional environment that mirrors what they will encounter post-graduation.

Pride Productions had a hand in debate coverage from start to finish, including the weeks before and after Debate Day.


Before the debate, Hofstra set forth a docket of events and signature speakers to discuss the state of politics in 2016. Among the speakers were former Louisiana Governor and 2016 GOP candidate Bobby Jindal, Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod and comedian and former host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore.

“The hype leading up to the debate was constantly boiling [the] inner excitement within everybody, almost like an electricity that could be contagious,” said videographer Jordan Dalmedo ’18, a video/television major..

Between covering the events and being part of interviews with Hofstra’s distinguished guests, the grind never stopped for Pride Productions. Pride Productions videographer/editor Frank Yee '19 was always right in the middle of the excitement, saying, “There was so much going on prior to the debate, I was working on every week, two or three different events… that I would have to shoot and edit immediately,” he said.


When the day finally arrived for #HofDebate16, Pride Productions was ready.

Hofstra’s Physical Education Center was transformed into the Media Filing Center during the debate. Here, journalists from all over the world converged to prepare and file their debate coverage. Not far away, outside the Student Center, was Broadcast Plaza, where outlets like CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-Span hosted their on-site TV shows and coverage.

With so many media professionals on campus, Pride Productions found itself working alongside industry leaders such as MSNBC Senior Director Geoff Hoffman (a Hofstra alum), CNN commentator Sally Kohn, and ABC7 Eyewitness News NY anchors Sade Baderinwa and Bill Ritter.

Camera Person

Besides the debate itself, Hofstra set up dozens of events across campus for students, including debate watch parties, panels and more. Pride Productions was there to capture the experience and reactions from visitors to spectators to student volunteers.

“Constantly moving really gave me the feel of what it might be like when I go out into the field,” Yee said. “As a student that’s a huge boost of confidence to know.”

If you were on campus on debate day, you most likely saw a member of Pride Productions hard at work, and it all was a part of a massive, professional operation that came together throughout the day, as well as in the days following.

“Being credentialed to have a bit more access to the debate on such an historic event for the campus, the world and the country, was amazing and I’ll never forget it.”

–Raj Chidambaram, ’18, a video/television/film major

“I didn’t always feel very valued growing up, so being able to ascend to a position where I started to realize there was a gift in speaking and communicating was a big deal for me. The best advice I could ever give to someone is to say, 'You are enough.' I'm beginning to learn our real job in life is to reach our highest, truest and most authentic selves. It’s not to be like other people. It’s not to be 'normal.'”

Michael Fuller, '17, BA/MA Journalism

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Once all was said and done, it was time for Pride Productions to put together all of their work. Their finished product was tirelessly edited in their office in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication.

Seeing the finished products of their hard work come together made members of the club’s efforts become a reality.

“It really furthered my passion for this industry, seeing the world’s media descend onto this campus,” said editor Raj Chidambaram.

Being part of not only one of the biggest events in Hofstra history, but one of the most watched moments in political history continued to validate the careers of some of the best and brightest at Hofstra. Some made connections with media pros like MSNBC’s Geoff Hoffman, who offered future opportunities to Pride Productions members. For others, getting to be a key facet of the day was a thrill.

by Kyle Kandetzki