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BU Covers Super Tuesday

COM students report from three states


Student journalists from the College of Communication will be jockeying for position alongside national media today, as they cover pivotal Super Tuesday primary contests that could determine the next Republican presidential candidate.

More than 30 students from COM’s broadcast, print, and photojournalism programs are reporting the day’s breaking stories and polling results on the ground in three states, including Massachusetts. The students’ website is being updated throughout the day, and coverage will air both online and on BUTV10 starting at 10 p.m. The project, run by the BU News Service, is called COM 2012 Presidential Campaign Coverage.

BU’s location in a major city makes it possible for students to engage in this level of political reporting, says one of the event’s organizers, Susan Walker, a COM associate professor of journalism, who has more than 30 years of television experience. “It’s why we attract the students we do, because we don’t just have some mock news coverage and textbook experience,” she says. “Events like this bring news to life for our students. Being in Boston, how can you not send students out to cover these events?”

With more than 400 delegates at stake, Super Tuesday has become one of the most significant primary dates. This year, voters in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia head to the polls.

“Super Tuesday will be the first true test of each candidate’s national viability, both for winning the GOP nomination and for going up against President Obama in the general election,” says Thomas Fiedler (COM’71), dean of COM, who will appear on-air as a political analyst during the 10 p.m. live broadcast.

BUTV10 Super Tuesday coverage, Susan Walker, Matt Reed, BUTV10 control room

Walker in the BUTV10 control room with Matt Reed (COM’13).

A total of 437 delegates are up for grabs today. To win the Republican Party nomination, a candidate needs 1,144 delegates. The New York Times estimates that Mitt Romney leads the field to date, with 180 delegates, trailed by Rick Santorum, with 90, Ron Paul, with 29, and Newt Gingrich, with 23.

COM’s Super Tuesday coverage has been weeks in the planning. Walker says the idea grew out of a conversation among six professors across different disciplines who decided to have their classes produce joint news coverage rather than cover Super Tuesday separately.

Each of the six classes is responsible for a different aspect of today’s news gathering and coverage. Graduate students in Walker’s Television Newsroom class will report live from Romney headquarters in Boston and will produce additional stories. Students in the Enterprise Reporting class, taught by R. D. Sahl, a visiting professor of journalism and longtime Emmy-winning Boston news anchor, will provide live coverage of exit poll data and produce a story about the student vote. Bumpers for the evening broadcast will be produced by students studying with Peter Southwick, an associate photojournalism professor, and Anne Donohue, an associate professor of journalism. Volunteer students from BUTV10, advised by Christophor Cavalieri (COM’81), an assistant professor of television, will help out in the broadcast.

Social media efforts will be coordinated by students in the Online Journalism class of Michelle Johnson, an associate professor of the professional practice of journalism. They will also provide content for the web, including a map with updated tallies from each of the 10 contests

Longtime Boston Globe editor Johnson was among the journalists who launched Boston.com in 1995. She hopes that students will learn that covering a live event of this significance now means you have to do it across several media platforms. “If you’re in TV, you have to realize that you’ll also be asked to tweet and take photos,” she says. “The students will be in a good position for the job hunt because employers want people out of school who know how to use these tools. This show tonight will be a real-world experience for them.”

BUTV10 Super Tuesday coverage, Boston University

Necessary reporting tools: recorder, microphone flag, and news credentials.

Additional coverage is being provided by students enrolled in the BU Washington, D.C., Journalism Program, who are reporting from Virginia. Despite being considered a key swing state in the fall, only two GOP candidates—Romney and Paul—are on the ballot there because of the state’s stringent signature requirements. With Romney expected to win handily, analysts are predicting that the big story in Virginia could be low voter turnout.

Marie Torto (COM’13) and Sandy Hooper (COM’13) left early this morning for Brattleboro, Vt., to shoot and report a 90-second video package that will be posted on the web and aired as part of the 10 p.m. newscast. Torto says they plan to interview voters and GOP officials before returning to campus to edit and write their story in time for their 9 p.m. deadline.

Torto says this is her first time producing a political broadcast package under such a tight deadline, but expects the experience will prove invaluable.

“I’m absolutely excited to have this experience, because when I apply for jobs I need to show them reels of what I’ve produced,” Torto says. “This story will look great because it will show that I’m versatile, that I can get out there and cover politics. Up until this point, I’ve been studying up on the primary and have conducted interviews on camera, but this is a big deal. I hope it all helps me today.”

Watch this video on YouTube

In the video above, watch COM students’ behind-the-scenes preparation for covering Super Tuesday. Video by William Politis (COM’12)

COM 2012 Presidential Campaign Coverage is tonight, March 6, at 10 p.m. The website is being updated throughout the day, with coverage airing both online and on BUTV10.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

2 Comments on BU Covers Super Tuesday

  • Anne Hunt on 03.06.2012 at 1:21 pm

    I wish the students well in their efforts to cover the super Tuesday event. I look forward to reading much of the material.
    -Anne Hunt- Political Editor

  • Prof. Chris Daly on 03.06.2012 at 1:29 pm

    Good luck, everybody. I’ve been there many times, and covering elections always turns out to be gratifying. It’s one of the ways we earn our spot in the Constitution.

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