Temple journalism student goes viral after sprinting out of Manafort trial

NBC intern Cassie Semyon ran out of the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, to report Manafort’s verdict.

Cassie Semyon, 21, an intern for NBC News, runs from the courthouse with results outside of federal court as jury deliberations are announced in the trial of the former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Just after President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman pleaded guilty to eight federal finance crimes on Tuesday, NBC News intern Cassie Semyon was on the run.

Clutching her notepad, the blue-dress-cladded senior journalism student hurtled out of the courthouse doors in Alexandria, Virginia, to bring the story to her station. No phones were allowed in the courtroom of Manafort’s trial, so she had to sprint to break the news.

Little did Semyon know in her sprint to report the news, she was about to go viral herself.

Semyon, who works as the politics and foreign affairs intern with Andrea Mitchell Reports, was caught mid-run by an Associated Press photographer, Jacquelyn Martin, in an iconic photo that has been retweeted more than 5,300 times and received more than 46,000 likes on Twitter. Semyon’s sprint was also broadcasted live on CNN.

“So proud,” Andrea Mitchell wrote yesterday on Twitter. “Have you ever seen a better picture of a journalist running to break news of a verdict?”

Twitter users rallied around Semyon’s dedication and coined the hashtag #GoBlueDressGo. Journalists and readers throughout the country dubbed Semyon “the journalist in the blue dress.” Semyon’s follower count surged, increasing by more than 7,000 overnight. As of July 2, she had fewer than 700 followers. She currently has more than 11,000.

Semyon appeared on NBC’s TODAY show on Friday morning to discuss her sprint.

“Honestly, in my mind, I was just worried about getting outside and doing my job,” Semyon said on the TODAY show. “I had no idea it was being caught on camera until the AP photographer came up to me afterwards.”

“I thought I was just gonna have a good Instagram photo,” she added.

To her peers, mentors and colleagues at Temple, it was no surprise to see the former cross country athlete sprinting across the screen. Semyon has worked as a Temple University Television producer and programming assistant for three years and reported on Temple Update since January 2017.

TUTV general manager Paul Gluck said her speed personified the motivation Semyon has showed since day one on Main Campus.

“When your back is turned in a room, you know when Cassie has entered just by her energy,” Gluck said.

Amy Caples, an assistant media studies and production professor and the director of recruiting of MSP, said she had no doubt Semyon would go far. The two first met when Semyon was a high school junior.  

“She is a dynamo,” Caples said. “She had a strategic game plan about what she was going to be involved with and what she wanted to do, and she did it.”

The Klein College of Media and Communication Dean David Boardman joined in on Twitter to congratulate Semyon on her recognition.

“Just the start of a great career in journalism,” he tweeted Tuesday.

Boardman then sent out another tweet encouraging Semyon to join the football team.

“The journalist in the blue dress” went viral one day after The Atlantic published an article titled “The Lazy Trope of the Unethical Female Journalist.” This story explored the negative depictions female journalists embody in television. The writer argues that Hollywood paints female journalists as professionals with poor ethics and shady morals, poised to do anything for a story, like Zoe Barnes in Netflix series “House of Cards” and Camille Preaker in HBO show “Sharp Objects.”

Semyon declined to comment.

People on Twitter heralded Semyon as anything but that negative trope.

Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of hiding foreign bank accounts, The New York Times reported. This is one of the first major victories for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case regarding the Trump Campaign in investigating collusion with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

The same day, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, appeared in a Manhattan federal court and pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts including tax evasion and campaign finance violations, CNN reported.

Other journalists and twitter users took note of Semyon’s ambition.

“She brings a joy to hard news, with a seriousness, that brings out great work,” Paul Gluck said.

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