CQS 25th Anniversary Tribute: Nolan D. McCaskill

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Nolan D. McCaskill (Summer 2014)
Breaking News Reporter
Politico

It’s not surprising for a journalism student whose program was just a mile away from the state Capitol to become a political reporter after graduation — unless that student made, at best, three trips to the statehouse and reported a whopping zero stories that mentioned Florida Gov. Rick Scott or any state legislators.

I was that student, but somehow I found myself starting a yearlong fellowship at Politico two weeks after graduating from Florida A&M University in December 2014. I’m now a breaking news reporter for Politico.

At the time of this writing, my last few stories included a breaking news alert about President Barack Obama’s intention to nominate a new Supreme Court justice “in due time” and some of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s most memorable quotes. Scalia had died earlier that day at age 79.

One of the most fulfilling moments throughout my short time here has been how far my work has traveled. Prominent politicians in Washington, D.C., and other people around the country aren’t just reading it. They’re also sharing it.

For example, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders retweeted me in February. The tweet, which linked to my story about former NAACP President Ben Jealous endorsing the Vermont senator, has been retweeted more than 740 times and liked more than 1,530 times — by far the most popular tweet I’ve ever cast into the Twittersphere.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat representing Massachusetts who sits on the upper chamber’s Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, shared a story I wrote in January from her Facebook page. That story, headlined “Former AIG chairman Hank Greenberg invests $10 million in Jeb Bush,” has more than 84,600 Facebook shares — by far, more shares than for any story I’ve written.

I’ve also seen my work circulated in emails from Jeb Bush’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

I once questioned whether I could do the very thing I’m doing now. I was skeptical that I could be an asset for Politico. There’s so much I don’t know, I thought to myself. How would I make up for that? What if I’m not fast enough? What if I never gain an interest in politics?

Those doubts have thankfully diminished. I’m still learning about politics and policy on the job, but it’s reassuring to see politicians and party officials on both sides of the aisle distributing my work.

And, for what it’s worth, I’ve made dozens of trips to the U.S. Capitol and can finally name at least one time I’ve written about Scott.

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