Meet The Millennial Political Reporter Helping You Decide Your 2016 Vote
Hallie Jackson is on a plane to nowhere.
Well, not quite nowhere. But, it does take her a minute to remember exactly where she's headed.
“Phoenix?" she says. "Yes, Phoenix." This time, she repeats it more firmly.
For Jackson, 32, this is all part of the job. The NBC News correspondent travels for two to three weeks at a time, covering the campaign trail from the GOP side, specifically following Senator Ted Cruz. She has also interviewed Donald Trump and former runners in the presidential race, including Marco Rubio.
Naturally, when we touch base, she's in an airport.
There are certain perks to always being on the move, Jackson explains. For one, her outfits are carefully chosen ahead of time and packed in a small suitcase for easy grabbing. To keep her dresses wrinkle-free, she relies on the help of a power strip (“we're often in places with one plug!”) and travel steamer.
“I steam in rental cars, lobbies, wherever there's a bottle of water and a plug,” she says with a laugh.
Crease-free attire is crucial for the reporter, as she's always either on camera or at extensive sit-down interviews. In Jackson's case, it simply won't do to show up to a press junket in a crumpled blazer.
Living out of a suitcase does have its faults. For one, Jackson is usually on the road for two to three weeks at a time, which puts a decided damper on just how versatile she can be with what she wears. Plus, there's the ever-looming question of where she's going next. The answer is wherever Cruz is heading.
Each morning, Jackson wakes up at around four or five to check the headlines and make sure she and her team didn't miss anything in the two hours between the night and morning shows.
For a budding journalist, the hours might sound intimidating, but Jackson doesn't seem at all fazed by her grueling schedule. In fact, she thrives on it, radiating an infectious energy.
“Every day is different,” she says. “That's the beauty of what we do."
Jackson attributes her "just keep swimming" attitude to various sources, but especially from the other women covering politics. Female reporters -- specifically female political reporters -- have to rely on one another, especially with so much hate directed at female journalists. Let's not forget Donald Trump's beef with Megyn Kelly.
“I love the strong female political press board,” Jackson says. “It fuels a sense of camaraderie. You don't notice it, but one day you look up and say, 'Wow, there is such a great support system.' It's a huge positive."
For women who hope to become female reporters, she advises to always be persistent and demand an answer. For example, in March, a clip of Jackson's interview with Ted Cruz went viral after he failed to answer a direct question about whether he'll support Donald Trump as a GOP nominee in light of comments both parties made about each other's wives.
"This particular moment caught fire partly because of the environment in which it happened, in the middle of controversy after Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz," explained Jackson.
The most challenging thing about the campaign trail isn't the lack of work space (Jackson's sometimes had to type in gas station bathrooms) or asking tough questions, however. It's the logistics. Because she's always on the move, she always has to know what her next step will be.
"You're traveling so much," she explains. "You're reporting your stories and traveling. It's hard to figure out where you're going, which hotel, which flight."
The constant travel does have one perk, though. It allows Jackson to fulfill her side passion, scenic photography.
Jackson does not have an Instagram typical of a political reporter. There are few photos of behind-the-scenes goings-on and even fewer photos of her. It's a refreshing change, especially when she was voted one of the sexiest people on television by Mediaite in 2015. Instead, her Instagram is littered with photos of her travels.
Instagram and other social media platforms have played a huge role in the presidential campaign, and for Jackson, too. She's always tweeting little nuggets of info, Snapchatting and sharing posts on Facebook.
"We use new technology to bring people closer," she says.
While Jackson sounds like she's always had it figured out, she initially wanted to be a print reporter. Then, at Johns Hopkins, she majored in political science, interned in broadcast and fell in love.
"I loved the urgency and the immediacy of the way we tell stories," she explains.
As a young reporter, leaping in and asking the tough questions might sound utterly terrifying. To Jackson, it's all part of the job. At a time where female reporters are just as much a part of the conversation as they are covering it, it can be difficult pushing forward, especially for a young female reporter.
Trump, specifically, had choice words for Megyn Kelly and other reporters, specifically calling them "naive" and insinuating that they are on their periods.
That doesn't seem to faze Jackson, nor does she advise that it deter other young journalists. All that matters is this bit of Teddy Roosevelt-like advice.
"Be polite but persistent," she says. "Refuse to be intimidated."