August 29, 2008

Election Headquarters

Lafayette will produce its second student-run, live election broadcast on Nov. 4

On Nov. 4, students, faculty, and staff will once again turn Lafayette into election central during the College’s second student-run, live election broadcast.

Hosted by the Policy Studies program, the 2006 broadcast received rave reviews, including one from Jim Gardner, anchor of Action News on WPVI-TV Philadelphia.

  • 2006 Election Night Telecast

This year’s telecast will cover the historic Presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain, as well as elections in the Senate and House of Representatives. Students will research the issues and candidates, write scripts, prepare storyboards, and create pre-recorded segments. Anchors Jeff Katz ’10, Stephanie Kramer ’09, and Jayne Miller ’10 will appear live with updated returns, interviews, analyses, and commentaries. The broadcast will be aired on RCN-4 in the Lehigh Valley, RCN-8 in Delaware County, and on the Internet.

“The 2008 U.S. election cycle provides our students with a unique opportunity to confront the critical issues shaping the future,” says Mark Crain, Simon Professor of Political Economy and chair of Policy Studies. “Our goal for 2008 is to encourage students to innovate and reach beyond what was accomplished in the 2006 broadcast.”

Crain says the students are trying to give the broadcast a more youthful and edgy feel – something more akin to MTV or the Daily Show (without the comedy), rather than CNN or Fox News.

The event itself will take place from 9-11 p.m. at various sets located on the first floor of Farinon College Center. A pre-event party featuring food, music, and dancing also will take place in Farinon. In the weeks leading up to broadcast, Crain expects there to be a mock convention and a results prediction contest. But, even more importantly, there will be a tremendous amount of activity in the classroom.

The broadcast and the work leading up to the broadcast will be very interdisciplinary in nature. The pre-recorded segments will be made by students in classes taught by Crain; Nicole Crain, visiting professor of economics & business; Sharon Jones, director of engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering; Jeff Liebner, visiting instructor of mathematics; and Bill Jemison, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Students in the geographical information systems course taught by John Wilson, geology lab coordinator, will create onscreen political maps. Mary Toulouse, director of the Foreign Languages and Literatures Resource Center, is finding ways to use technology to involve students from around the world. Students in an advanced video art course taught by Michael Lantz, visiting part-time instructor of art, will work on the stylistic format and assist in the pre-recorded segments.

The journalistic writing course taught by Carrie Havranek, visiting part-time instructor of English, will be involved in script writing and in providing coverage of political bloggers. Campus organizations such as Holla Back, Policy in Action, and the Lafayette newspaper, will also be involved.

Lew Minter, director of the art department’s media lab, guided EXCEL Scholars and students in two courses in the design of a logo for the event and a series of posters, which will be distributed around campus in the weeks prior to the broadcast.

“We want to use the broadcast to channel energy and engage as many people as possible in the political process,” says Crain.

Crain believes the energy level among students is very high this year due to the historic nature of the elections and the “Obama factor.”

“Obama has excited many young people as he represents to them a new generation of politicians,” Crain says. “He has brought about a dramatic increase in turnout among young voters, and I think they realize that the winner of this election will have an effect on them throughout their lives.”

Crain says the ultimate goal is for the election broadcast to go beyond an extra-curricular activity, and provide a broad based learning experience complimentary to what is going on in the classrooms.

Crain would also like to acknowledge the generous support Bruce Maggin ’65 has provided to help make the 2008 broadcast a reality.

  • Policy Studies

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