Julianna Goldman ’03 got her start in journalism answering phone calls in the customer service department of Bloomberg—more than 200 calls a day, she recalls. Four years later—after stints as a production assistant and producer in the TV division—she was a reporter at Bloomberg News, assigned to the nascent national campaign of a little-known senator named Barack Obama. Today, she is covering her third presidential campaign as an on-air reporter for CBS News.
Following a candidate around the country gives her an exhilarating sense of being on the front lines of history. “It is democracy at its core, and that makes it one of the most exciting fields you can be covering,” she says.
But Twitter, Facebook, and all the other advances brought by the Internet also mean “you are just constantly working. You used to get on the plane and say, ‘Phew, I have a break. No one can reach me.’” With Internet access above the clouds and the 24-hour news cycle, that is no longer the case.
Goldman dreamed of becoming a reporter as far back as elementary school, and she credits Barnard with giving her the poise to undertake such daunting assignments as interviewing a president—she conducted the first one-on-one sit-down with Obama after his 2012 re-election. “I appreciate the sense of confidence that was instilled in me at Barnard, to go into the real world and help me find a voice,” she says.
Her mentor, veteran journalist Al Hunt, assigned her to the Obama campaign in 2007 to get her feet wet. “They put all the senior reporters on Hillary Clinton,” she recalls. When Obama prevailed, Goldman was assigned to stay with his campaign because she had developed a rapport with him and his staff. “Sometimes it’s not necessarily about reporting, but about getting to know the candidate,” she says. Case in point: In 2014, Obama presented Goldman with a cake for her birthday while they flew on Air Force One.
Goldman attended both parties’ conventions this summer and did several investigative stories about Clinton as well as Republican candidate Donald Trump. As for covering the first woman to be the nominee of a major party, Goldman says, “It’s historic, but it doesn’t take away from the need to scrutinize the candidate as you would anyone else. As a reporter, you have to take a step back and not let that get in the way.” Another challenge is staying on your toes despite a campaign’s repetitiveness, such as hearing the same stump speech day after day, she says.
Her favorite part of the beat is the camaraderie that develops with fellow reporters. She recalls splitting transcribing duties with fellow journalists on the trail after a candidate gave a statement, so that everyone could get their stories filed sooner. “Some of my best friends today are my girlfriends who were reporting on the Obama campaign,” she says. “There really is a sense of family.”