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Students Report Election Night

COM coverage on radio, TV, online

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Today, after months of planning and a week of 10-hour days of tech rehearsals and editorial meetings, more than 100 College of Communication students will be out covering the 2012 presidential, congressional, and senate races. An unprecedented program called Decision 2012, the multiplatform, real-time reporting effort involves students from Washington, D.C., to New Hampshire as they report, broadcast, photograph, and tweet Election Day developments.

The students’ reporting will be carried throughout the day on the BU News Service website and starting at 6 p.m. on the University’s student radio station WTBU. BUTV10.com, BU’s student-produced and -managed TV station, will begin airing coverage at 8 p.m.

COM’s Election Night coverage is spearheaded by BUTV10.com faculty advisor Christophor Cavalieri (COM’81), a COM assistant professor of television, who got the idea for the project after several COM classes teamed up to cover the multistate Super Tuesday primaries last March.

Something of this scale has never been attempted before at COM, Cavalieri says. “Student groups and classes wanted to pool their efforts into a single multimedia effort. There are grad students and first semester freshman engaged in this project. It’s a capstone for those who will soon be graduating and for the rest, it sets the bar very high. I think such a project fuels students’ ambition and is something they’ll remember for the rest of their careers.”

Thomas Fiedler (COM’71), dean of COM, along with John Carroll, a COM assistant professor of mass communication, will provide political analysis during BUTV10’s live coverage. Fiedler says today’s coordinated coverage is a “high wire act” of sorts for COM students, given the number of locations they will be reporting from. “We take it for granted as consumers of TV news that anchors bounce from correspondents in Ohio to Washington, D.C., to their expert panel in the newsroom, and it all seems to go seamlessly,” he says. “But when you step back and think about the engineering challenge and the talents of the people on camera, it really is a remarkably complex undertaking.”

With the presidential race in a dead heat, COM students are prepared for numerous scenarios as polls close and results start coming in. The University’s location gives students an opportunity not only to provide live coverage from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s Boston headquarters, but to cover one of the nation’s most hotly contested Senate races, between Democrat Elizabeth Warren and GOP incumbent Scott Brown, right here in Massachusetts.

BUTV10.com Decision 2012 election night coverage

COM assistant professor of television and BUTV10.com faculty advisor, Christophor Cavalieri (COM’81), looks on from the control room as students make their way through a rehearsal of the Tuesday night election coverage in COM’s Studio West.

BUTV10’s first two hours of coverage will feature pretaped, election-themed editions of Inside Boston and On That Point, with live five-minute updates every half-hour. Two hours of live coverage kicks off at 10 p.m., with reporting from students based at numerous remote locations, including Romney’s, Brown’s, and Warren’s headquarters, and New Hampshire, one of this year’s critical swing states. Other reporters will cover several local congressional races and two key Massachusetts ballot initiatives: one that would legalize medical use of marijuana and another that would allow physician-assisted suicide. Reporters will also be at BU Central’s election-watch party, where they will analyze the student vote in the presidential race.

WTBU’s live election coverage will run from 6 p.m. to midnight. Station news director Kyle Clauss (COM’15) will anchor a team of radio reporters stationed at Romney, Brown, and Warren headquarters.

Decision 2012 marks the official launch of the newly redesigned BU News Service. The website will feature constant updates, with live blogging, interactive graphics, photo galleries, and video packages. It will use the Twitter hashtag #BUNews. Photojournalism students will be shooting throughout the day and evening and filing to the website; students in the Washington, D.C., Journalism Program will send stories and live blogging from watch parties down there. COM’s Statehouse Program will also be involved.

Following election night, BU News Service will provide ongoing multimedia coverage of Boston’s neighborhoods and political, sports, and arts and entertainment scenes, as well as local business and science stories, says Michelle Johnson, a COM associate professor of journalism, a former Boston Globe editor, and one of the journalists who launched Boston.com.

Johnson says technology has made it easier than ever for her students to report from remote locations. Prior to the advent of smartphones, students would have had to return to COM to upload their reports, further delaying publication. Now, they can upload right from the field.

Jack Goldberg (COM’13), who is responsible for promoting Decision 2012 through COM’s PRLab, reports that students are excited to be involved in Election Day coverage, contradicting reports that young people aren’t interested in this year’s presidential race.

“This is about BU showing we have opinions on the issues that count,” Goldberg says. “It’s about students showing that we should not go unheard and that politics is not an old person’s interest. As the future leaders of America, we need to pay attention.”

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Amy Laskowski

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

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