Election Day is a Hot Topic in J-Classes

2 11 2010

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

It seems that politics and talk of the election has overtaken everything, from television, to online, to automated phone calls. The election has even invaded the classes of the Department of Journalism.

Throughout the election season, professors and students have been watching and discussing all aspects of the political process.

For example, Dr. Tim Gleason has students in his Media Photography II class document the election in a unique way. Students are required to take pictures that deal with Election Day, but can tackle it in any way they wish. As photojournalists, they capture images of people voting, or signs on campus. Or with a more creative approach, students may use the Journalism Department’s photography studio to create photos that represent the election in some way.

“Election days were among my favorite days as a photojournalist because of the energy and hope,” Gleason said. “It is the job of a photojournalist to cover events to create greater awareness and understanding.”

Advertising students in Dr. Sara Hansen’s Principles of Advertising course are talking about political advertising and how politicians and interest groups present information to voters, using websites such as Politfact. In her Advertising Media course, media vehicles and online advertising based on consumer preferences offer ideas for discussion and analysis.

In Reporting, professor Miles Maguire is taking a unique approach by having students analyze the ideologies of the candidates.

“We are not taking the usual approach of covering individual races but instead focusing on issues,” Maguire said. “We try to gauge what voters are voting for, or against, as opposed to the more conventional ‘who.’”

Journalism lecturer Grace Lim started off several recent discussions for Multiplatform Storytelling in the Digital Age about political stories and events. The class usually weighs in on how certain campaigns are being handled, what ads and commercials are misleading, and more.

“I start the class with a quick current events discussion because I want my students to be informed and engaged members of society,” Lim said. “We have to keep tabs of our elected officials. That’s our role as journalists.”

Lim said being able to fully understanding the current issues helps journalists in their pursuit to objectively inform the public.

“We have to be able to separate the facts from innuendos and outright lies,” Lim said. “Journalists are the eyes, ears and, frankly, I believe, the heart of society.”

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