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Class Heads North To Cover New Hampshire Primary

Learning from leaders on-the-ground

WHO: Students, Profs. Dotty Lynch, Richard Benedetto, Lynne Perri, Bill Gentile, and Carrie Giddins

WHAT: Available for interviews                        

WHEN: January 4-6 in Washington, D.C., or Jan 7-11 in Manchester, New Hampshire

WHERE: At American University (Jan 4-6), in Manchester (Jan 7-11) and via telephone

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 20, 2011) What would a reality show about Millennials covering the primaries look like?  It could look like American University’s Communicating the 2012 Election class which emphasizes “learning from leaders” and learning on-the-ground in the midst of the New Hampshire primary which is three short weeks away.  Broken up into teams, cameras, I-Pads, and reporters’ notepads in hand, these Millennials will compete with fellow journalists to get the day’s stories.

An eager group of 34 communication and government students (a mixture of graduate and undergraduates from American University’s School of Communication (SOC) and School of Public Affairs) led by an expert faculty will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, as part of their class Communicating the 2012 Election.  Together, they will trek to cover the primary in a real world, breaking news environment with a serious dose of reality – frigid New Hampshire weather, 16 hour work days, and finding the story that perhaps nobody in the national press corps has hit upon.  From their Manchester newsroom (January 7-11), the class will be blogging, filing stories, and preparing packages for media partnerships which have been made in advance of their departure.  Through faculty connections, the students will branch out to report on the primary battling long days and numb fingers and toes to live the life of a political news journalist interviewing campaign operatives, speaking to reporters, campaign representatives, New Hampshire voters, and the candidates.  

Learning from Leaders

While students from other schools will be in New Hampshire independently seeking out stories, American’s program is led by a seasoned, expert media faculty possessing more than a combined century’s worth of campaign, political journalism experience and over a dozen New Hampshire primaries since 1972. Dotty Lynch (director of the Masters program  in Political Communication is a CBS veteran political reporter), Richard Benedetto (adjunct professor; former White House correspondent and USA Today political columnist), Lynne Perri (journalist in residence; managing editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop and former deputy managing editor for Graphics and Photography at USA Today ) and Bill Gentile (journalist in residence; producer for PBS Frontline, international journalist and back pack journalism expert) along with Carrie Giddins (adjunct professor; former communications director at Iowa Democratic Party) will lead the students through the series of debates, rallies, media appearances, home visits, and spin zones.  Additionally, through their connections students will have access to national television, print, online and radio media outlets to learn how journalism in the field works.

Prior to leaving for New Hampshire, on January 4-6 students will be prepping at American University through lectures and discussions, training on equipment, and receiving some tips on how to elbow in along the press line to pitch a question to some of the GOP presidential hopefuls. The class will continue through the semester preparing reports on advertising, news coverage, turnout, debates and financing as the nomination fight continues.

This is the second New Hampshire primary American University students and faculty will participate in after the successful inaugural class from 2008.

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.