Syracuse University

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Newhouse students capture 'Democracy in Action'

November 01, 2010

Wendy S. Loughlin
(315) 443-2785

To capture “Democracy in Action,” about 150 Newhouse School students will be at the polls on Election Day talking to voters, candidates and election workers.

dia“We want the young reporters to find and tell those inspiring stories of citizens doing their most important work—voting,” says Charlotte Grimes, Newhouse’s Knight Chair in Political Reporting. “And we hope those voters, the candidates and the election workers will share their experiences.”

Election Day is Nov. 2. The student-journalists will post their vignettes—in audio, text, still photos and video reports—online at http://www.dia-cny.com/electionday.

The project is coordinated by Grimes and two broadcast and digital journalism professors, Christy Perry and Chris Tuohey. It includes graduate and undergraduate students from nine classes in photography, print journalism, television and radio news. The Post-Standard also will feature some of the students’ work on http://www.syracuse.com. It’s the first such collaboration on Election Day coverage across so many classes and in partnership with the Post-Standard.

“In the past, we’ve sent our individual classes out to cover Election Day. This year’s collaboration gives us all a chance to work together more efficiently,” says Perry. She is also the project’s web designer and webmaster.

Tuohey will coordinate the project’s audio and video coverage, including on-the-scene reports through the website. “While we won’t technically be ‘going live,’ we’re going to combine traditional TV studio production with on-scene reporting using Skype to quickly turn around stories and interviews and post them to the site,” says Tuohey.

The student-journalists will start telling the stories of Election Day shortly after 5 a.m., as election inspectors begin setting up the polling places. They’ll visit more than 60 polling places across Onondaga County, as well as the traditional Election Day spaghetti lunch at Our Lady of Pompeii Church. The coverage will continue all 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 the coverage on the Democracy in Action website, the student-journalists’ work will be posted on Twitter (@DemocracyAction) and the Democracy in Action Facebook page. “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 Election has also helped the students understand what they can and can’t do on Election Day, with a special advising session on Sunday, Oct. 31. “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. “After all, Election Day is a great celebration of and tribute to democracy. It’s a gift handed down from one generation to another.”

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