USC Annenberg students prepare for full-scale election night coverage



Posted October 31, 2012

By Krista Daly
Student Writer

Student journalists at Annenberg Radio News, Annenberg TV News and Neon Tommy will collaborate on election night to produce joint, comprehensive and live news coverage of the historic event.

“We are deploying a full-scale mobilization for the election and will have as many or more reporters on the streets and on the editors’ desks than any other news outlet in Southern California,” said journalism professor Marc Cooper, director of Annenberg Digital News and Neon Tommy.

Neon Tommy will have at least 200 unique posts and perhaps many more, said Paresh Dave, executive director of Neon Tommy. The award-winning news site will also use Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr throughout the day and night.

“Viewers will have plenty of options,” Dave said. “I'd say to them keep neontommy.com open as a tab on your browser because we'll provide a youthful perspective, deliver an unprecedented number of reports for a student news website and will be prepared to engage with you throughout the day.”

Some of the coverage highlights include reports from 17 key counties across seven states that could decide the presidential election, dozens of interviews with Los Angeles voters and up-to-the-minute coverage of California ballot measures and last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts.

Annenberg Radio News will feature interviews with politicos around Los Angeles, and provide coverage on KXSC Radio 1560 AM for 10 minutes spread over the bottom and top of every hour. The radio coverage will begin coverage at 6:55 p.m., and will also have live streaming on annenbergradio.org throughout the night.

“Election night reporting is one of the most exciting and critically important events that journalists can cover,” said journalism professor Willa Seidenberg, director of Annenberg Radio News. “Our combined news operation will be providing some of the most comprehensive election night coverage anywhere in Los Angeles.”

Annenberg TV News will have live coverage starting at 7 p.m. on both Trojan Vision and atvn.org, preceded by a live election-focused 6 p.m. newscast.

Throughout the evening, ATVN’s live-stream coverage will include in-studio reports from ATVN and Neon Tommy contributors monitoring the presidential race, state-by-state results, propositions and measures and social media.  ATVN.org will also feature live shots from ATVN, ARN and NT reporters at watch parties and campaign gatherings all over Los Angeles.

“Our students are excited about sharing the live election night experience,” said Professor Serena Cha, Director of Annenberg TV News. “ATVN, ARN and NT reporters will be working side by side in the studio and in the field. This is true minute-by-minute collaboration under deadline pressure that creates a working model for multimedia newsrooms across the country.”

Olivia Heinle, student political executive producer for ATVN, said she and her classmates feel lucky to have the opportunity to be in a studio-newsroom for this historic event.

"There’s no better place to be on election night," Heinle said.

Because public relations plays such an important role in the political arena, students in the Strategic Public Relations program also will be participating in the election night coverage. Sixteen students from public relations professor Jennifer Floto's Specialized Writing in Public Relations course will live tweet throughout the evening. They will comment on PR strategies as they evolve (i.e., if a candidate concedes; dissecting media coverage/commentary) and, of course, will tweet their thoughts as results are reported.  The students will also comment on the quality of coverage both inside and outside of USC Annenberg.

USC Annenberg’s student-run Trisight Communications PR agency will help publicize the live student media election coverage.

USC’s Daily Trojan newspaper will print an election supplement on Nov. 2 in addition to the regular paper. Daily Trojan reporters will live blog and tweet as results come in on election night, with a print and online article the next day about student reactions.

“Young voters are the least politically involved, but we do have a lot of students engaged,” said Annalise Mantz, Daily Trojan news editor. “This is a contentious election season, and there will be great student reaction.”

Viewing party

Students, staff and faculty can watch the election results live on Nov. 6 as part of a collaboration between USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) and the USC Dornsife Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. The viewing party will be held in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center courtyard beginning at 5 p.m.

Previous viewing parties have been held at USC for every major political nomination and debate leading up to the election.

“The viewing parties are important because we are encouraging students and staff at USC to be aware of what’s going on,” said Isaac Rottman, a CCLP Junior Fellow.

Rottman said that although some students may still be unable to vote this election, CCLP and the Unruh Institute want to create a space where people are engaged in politics.

“Our main goal at the Unruh Institute is to get students as engaged in not just politics but public policy issues and getting engaged in how to make a difference,” said Thuy Huynh, Director of Programs & Community Engagement for the Unruh Institute of Politics.” Not just in their local community but also beyond, looking at issues ranging from the economy to health care, Medicare to foreign policy.”

“We hope to offer the opportunity for students to remain informed and stay on top of the country and the world,” Rottman said.

To create this opportunity, CCLP and the Unruh Institute have held bipartisan or non-partisan panels featuring people ranging from campaign managers to policy advisers to USC students and professors.

A record number of people have been attending these events, and election night is likely to be no exception. Because of the crowd expectations, the live screening will be held at the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center instead of the USC Annenberg east lobby.

“The campus center is such a central location to the university and so our hope is that students will come out in big numbers,” said Huynh. “At our first presidential debate live screening we had a turnout of almost 400 people, which is comparable to what we had on election night in 2008.”

In addition to the live results screening, CCLP is also encouraging students to be more involved by doing a Get Out The Vote campaign and sponsoring a tram with USC to get students to polling locations the day of the event.

“It's also a very exciting day for a lot of these students,” Huynh said. “Some students, this is their first time voting so just getting the hang of registering to vote and getting them to their polling locations is something that is very new to them and I think a lot of people are very excited for that.”

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