If you have been reading Tarah, Liz, or my blog, then you know that we recently trekked to New Hampshire to get immersed in the world of political campaigning. Our group of about 60 got media coverage, mainly for the "controversial" questions we asked of Romney, a Republican presidential candidate. However, this particular article was simply highlighting our trip and three journalism majors were on the other end of the tape recorder. The full article is featured below!
Election 2012: From the classroom to the campaign
By: Jordan J Fraiser, a Collegiate Correspondent for USA Today
Every four years the presidential campaign cycle converges with campaign operations and front-porch politicking.
The media, ranging from local newspapers to national television, goes
along for the ride, highlighting the interdependent relationship
between politics and journalists.
It’s the perfect atmosphere for college students studying political
journalism and an opportunity to get out of their lecture chairs and
take-in the process.
And that is exactly what is happening right now at Saint Michael’s
College in Vermont. Every four years the college offers Media and
American Politics, a class that coincides with presidential elections.
The highlight for students is a two-day trip to New Hampshire to see behind the headlines and sound bites and look at both the candidates and media with their own eyes.
As part of this year’s trip, the students made some of their own headlines.
Media outlets characterized the students visit to a Mitt Romney town
hall event in Hopkinton, where they peppered the candidate with
social-issue questions, by reporting headlines such as, “Romney badgered
on same-sex marriage questions” and “Romney avoids reporters, but not
“I think we were really just asking the questions he didn’t want to
answer,” Elizabeth Murray, a junior media studies, journalism and
digital arts major at Saint Michael’s, said.
Murray said Romney
told the audience the ideal climate for children is a home with one man
and one woman. She said the students weren’t happy with some of those
answers because they wanted to know more reasoning behind his thoughts,
not just his positions.
“When you know why a candidate feels the way he does, it’s easier to get to know them,” Murray added.
In addition to the Romney event, students also attended a Jon
Huntsman campaign stop in Tilton, where they also pitched social-issue
The Media and American Politics students were not the only Saint
Michael’s students on the trip. Their fellow travelers were students
with the Student Global AIDS Campaign who went with the purpose of advancing their cause.
Junior media studies, journalism and digital arts major Gabrielle
Hall said there was a clear division on the trip between the activist
students wanting to bring attention to their cause and the media
politics students looking to get first-hand experience with the election
As part of the trip, students also visited with reporters to discuss campaign coverage and spoke with an online editor of the Concord Monitor about how social media and online news impact election reporting.
On the second day of the trip, students attended a debate and had
quick encounters with candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and
Hall said she was surprised when meeting Bachmann because she found
the candidate short in height. She said in class they had discussed how
taller candidates often have an advantage and she thought about that
upon meeting them.
Furthermore, Hall said when Huntsman approached the group after the
debate he referenced some of the students social-issue questions from
the day before. She said it was interesting to see questions they asked
stick with a candidate.
For Tarah Srethwatanakul, a foreign student with Thai and Swiss
citizenship, the experience of observing her first American election was
something quite memorable.
“I feel like this type of campaign is really unique to America,” she
said of the United State’s emphasis on candidates as people, something
she hasn’t seen in elections overseas.