Newhouse Student-Journalists Will Head to Polls on Election Day
To capture “Democracy in Action,” about 130 Newhouse School journalism students will be at the polls on Election Day.
“The young journalists will tell voters’ stories—what voting means to them, why they bother to go to the polls,” says Charlotte Grimes, the Knight Chair in Political Reporting and one of three co-directors of the project. “Election Day is when voters do some of their most important work as citizens. And we want to share that civic engagement and civic inspiration.”
Election Day is Nov. 5. The student-journalists’ will produce vignettes—in audio, text, still photos and video reports—that will be posted on the project website at http://www.dia-cny.com/electionday.
This is the fourth year for Democracy in Action, which is coordinated by Grimes with Christy Perry, an adjunct in broadcast and digital journalism (BDJ) and Chris Tuohey, an associate professor of BDJ. Graduate and undergraduate students from 10 classes in photography, print and online journalism, television and radio news participate. Some of the students’ work will be posted on Syracuse.com and published in the Syracuse Post-Standard. WAER Radio will also air some of the students’ stories.
“Over the years of working on our election project, students have told us that it is a great and memorable experience that gives them a real feel for covering a live event,” says Perry, who serves as webmaster for the project website.
Tuohey will coordinate the project’s audio and video coverage, including on-the-scene reports through the website. The project, he said, gives students a taste of real-world experience. “There is a lot of flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants in a broadcast newsroom on Election Day—that’s what makes it so fun,” he says. “For the students, quickly turning around audio and video stories and producing from the field forces them to be quick on their feet in ways they haven’t experienced before.”
The student-journalists will start telling Election Day vignettes shortly after 5 a.m., as election inspectors begin setting up the polling places. They’ll visit close to 60 polling places across Onondaga County, as well as the traditional Election Day spaghetti lunch at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Syracuse. The coverage will continue through the day and into the evening when the polls close at 9 p.m. Some student-journalists will follow candidates as they gather to watch the vote results Tuesday night.
In addition to coverage on the Democracy in Action website, the student-journalists will tweet using the hashtag #diacny. “We want these vignettes to be available to the public in multiple ways,” says Perry, who is also coordinating the coverage through social media.
The Onondaga County Board of Elections helped the students understand what they can and can’t do on Election Day, with a special advising session on Oct. 20, by Dustin Czarny, the Democratic election board commissioner. “We’re very grateful for all their help,” says Perry. “They’ve helped educate a younger generation about the importance of voting and elections.”
A special part of the website will also feature children at the polls. That’s a tribute to parents who care enough about civic responsibility to teach it to their children at an early age, says Grimes. “Election Day is when we shape part of our future through electing our government,” she says. “And democracy is a gift we pass on to younger generations.”