On Nov. 6, Lafayette will once again host its live, student-run election night broadcast. This two-hour show, which will include the work of more than 100 students, will share up-to-the-minute information on the races for the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives to audiences on campus and across the United States.
The “command central” for the broadcast is an economics course with 35 students taught by Mark Crain, Simon Professor of Political Economy and chair of policy studies. The class will hold production meetings, plan content, and create the structure to manage the broadcast.
“This offers a unique opportunity for students. They will be taking part in a real-world experience as they produce a major broadcast,” says Crain. “As with any successful enterprise, the broadcast requires a strategic plan. The students are writing a mission statement, identifying their competitive advantage in terms of human and physical capital, and developing an organizational team to handle the thousand details and challenges that need attention during this process.”
The broadcast and the work leading up to it will be fully interdisciplinary in nature. Students will research the issues and candidates, write scripts, prepare storyboards, and create pre-recorded and live modules. Several other classes are also getting involved. So far another economics class will be developing video modules, a journalism class will be assisting with reporting, and geology students will be creating the onscreen maps using geographical information systems software. Student organizations such as the Kirby Government and Law Society are also planning events in collaboration with the broadcast team.
One of the students in Crain’s class, Edward O’Brien ’16 (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.), is serving as a delegate from New Jersey and reporting his experiences in a daily vlog from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“This broadcast is about young citizens explaining the 2012 elections in their own words to people their own age,” says Crain. “This is about intelligent young people who are active citizens examining how well the U.S. political process is working by issues ranging from healthcare to education to social security. Our students have a stake in this election and this election affects them now.”
The program will originate in the Farinon College Center’s Landis Atrium. Several students will have on-camera roles, serving as hosts, anchors, commentators, reporters, and members of discussion groups. Auditions for these roles will take place 6-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3, 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, and 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the Conway House Media Studio. Students interested may drop in at any time for a brief audition.
The 2008 broadcast reached 500,000 homes across the Lehigh Valley and western New Jersey. This year’s program will be carried over cable and will potentially reach audiences from Boston to Atlanta. It will also be streamed live over the Internet.