Young Claremonter a hit covering national politics

America’s newest hotshot journalist is still in middle school. Sammy Buch, 12, received an opportunity any aspiring reporter would only dream of: a chance to cover the first Democratic debate of the election year. It was an experience of a lifetime for the El Roble student.

“It was really really cool,” Sammy said. “I had a great time.”

Sammy is a part of a new program called Kid Scoop Media, which gives youngsters the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a real journalist in the field. Kids in the program have covered music festivals, interviewed dignitaries and even met with Vice President Joe Biden.

Sammy’s involvement with the program happened purely by chance, according to his father, Paul Buch.

“We went out for ice cream and there was an Italian café ice cream shop in Culver City,” Mr. Buch said. “Sitting at one of the tables was a woman that our friend knew. In conversation, she reveals her organization, Kid Scoop Media. He was immediately attracted to the possibility of doing that.”

Once Sammy signed up with the program, it was only a matter of time before Kid Scoop Media could grab some credentials. He was initially asked to go to the second Republican debate in Simi Valley, but Sammy had to decline due to a scheduling conflict.

When he was offered a chance to go to Las Vegas for the Democratic debate, Sammy and his father jumped at the opportunity.

Once his credentials came through the previous Friday, Sammy and his father booked a flight to Las Vegas. They had to arrive early; check-in time was 1 p.m., nearly five hours before the debate started. Once checked in, Sammy was directed to his very own spot in the sprawling media room at the Wynn.

“It was interesting how different it was than I actually thought it was going to be,” Sammy said. “I thought it was going to be a lot of hectic typing the entire time, but there was a lot of photo editing.”

Sammy’s presence among the seasoned media elite did not go unnoticed by other reporters, according to Sammy’s father.

“He got interviewed on camera to see what it’s like to be a 12-year-old boy in the midst of all this national craziness,” Mr. Buch said.

After the debate, Sammy was given the opportunity to work the floor. He talked to staffers from the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns about gun control. He had quick conversations with two well-known celebrity journalists, Chris Matthews of MSNBC and Don Lemon of CNN (Sammy considers Mr. Lemon a personal hero).

But the post-debate scrum proved to be a little exhausting for Sammy. “I was really tired. It was like 10 o’clock at night,” he admitted.

Eventually, he came face-to-face with an actual presidential candidate, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. With a bonafide candidate willing to talk to him, Sammy asked a tough question.

“I asked [Mr. Chafee] why he thinks he should be the president,” Sammy said. “And he said it’s a combination of his experience of being a mayor, going up all the way through the ranks, and him not having any scandals or anything like that.”

It was a good answer to a great question.

Now that he has the experience of a true journalist, it seems Sammy may have caught the reporting bug, one that many of us at the COURIER know all too well.

“I think I would love to be a journalist when I grow up,” Sammy said. “I’m kind of deciding what area of journalism. I like politics a lot, but I don’t know specifically what kind of journalism I want. But journalism is really interesting.”

Mr. Buch, who has a degree in journalism, sees a lot of himself in young Sammy.

“I think he has a natural feel for it,” Mr. Buch said. “But he’s also into science. His ambition up until [Tuesday] was to go to Harvey Mudd. Let’s see if that’s changed.”

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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