In partnership with the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and USC Dornsife, the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy hosted a live screening of the 2014 State of the Union address Tuesday night in USC Annenberg's East Lobby.
An audience of nearly 150 students and faculty packed the lobby to watch President Barack Obama’s speech, while those unable to find seating spilled onto the second floor and staircases. The event continued USC Annenberg’s tradition of hosting live screenings for students with all majors and disciplines.
“Encouraging political awareness among the student body is big,” said Haran Sivakumar (B.A. Film Production ’14), director of internal affairs for the USC College Republicans. “The State of the Union is one of the biggest events politically that happen in a a non-presidential election year, so we encouraged people to come out and hear what the President has to say.”
When not applauding or laughing at the president’s remarks, students had the opportunity to analyze coverage of the address aside peers who are training to become leaders in the media industry. Representatives from student media organizations Neon Tommy, Annenberg Television News and the Daily Trojan were in attendance, both to report and participate in conversation about the importance and implications of the president’s words.
“I like having the camaraderie of other students that are also interested in the same things I’m interested in,” said Giovanni Moujaes (B.A. Broadcast Journalism ’17). “Watching with other people that may be pursuing positions where they might be working these events in the future is really cool.”
Local television outlets set up around the USC Annenberg East Lobby to cover the screening as well. Notably, Telemundo and KTLA were on hand to interview students for both live and delayed broadcasts.
“Any school of journalism and communication needs to have all resources open to students, and this is one of the biggest resources you can have,” said Yasamin Azarakhsh (B.A. Print and Digital Journalism, ’14). “Being able to see how veteran reporters work in the field is great for us.”
A panel discussion followed the viewing, featuring USC College Republicans representative Jack Merritt, USC College Democrats President Sarah Herald, UCLA visiting law professor Bill Simon and USC Unruh Institute Director (on leave) Dan Schnur.
At Neon Tommy, USC Annenberg’s award-winning multimedia students news outlet, the atmosphere was more of a laid-back frenzy as some 20 writers gathered in the newsroom to live-tweet, live-blog and report at their own State of the Union event.
“We invited long-time reporters and new writers to the newsroom tonight,” said Deputy Editor Hannah Madans. “We have an awesome team of reporters ranging from 18 to 30 years old, so that creates a lot of really creative, original content.”
Throughout the address, the newsroom buzzed with the hum of clicking laptop keys and eager voices. For three hours, entertainment and political reporters alike were on the front lines of live political coverage, working tirelessly to produce fresh and engaging content for the publication’s global audience.
“We asked our writers to not just reiterate what's already been written,” said Editor-in-Chief Brianna Sacks. “Our coverage is really exciting because we're fusing news and opinion and offering content that's different. I think that really speaks to the digital storytelling skills and tools that USC Annenberg has given us as writers.”
Additional reporting by Greg Asciutto.