Election 2008

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications is planning an extensive night of converged election coverage. More than 70 students in radio, television, online and print journalism have been gearing up to cover Election 2008. The student participation in election coverage is the capstone in a semester of election-focused events. Coverage begins Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. and will continue until about midnight.

"It's a big undertaking," said Trina Creighton, a broadcasting professor who is coordinating the students' election coverage. Creighton expects the night to be exciting and hectic, but has complete confidence in the students' ability to handle the pressure.

Students will produce and host a live newscast on Channel 21 with reports streaming to NewsNetNebraska, the college's student-produced multimedia news service, and 90.3 KRNU. Students will do live newsroom shots from campaign headquarters, conduct exit poll interviews during voting hours and photojournalists will be sending in photos from across Lincoln that evening.

In preparation for Election Day, Creighton said, students have researched and investigated the issues. Stories in pre-production now that will air on election night will cover profiles of senatorial and presidential candidates; state legislative and congressional races; the GOP in small-town Nebraska; the college vote; the affirmative action amendment on the Nebraska ballot; the history of exit polls; the blogging and You Tube phenonema during this election cycle.

The live newscast will include interviews of local political experts, including:

  Dr. John R. Hibbing, political scientist and UNL professor, is an expert on the biological causes of political behavior
  Dr. John Bender, news-editorial professor will discuss the Bush legacy
  Dr. Charlyne Berens, news-editorial professor and author of a biography on Sen. Chuck Hagel, who will assess his legacy
  Dr. Dona-Gean Mitchell, UNL political scientist
  Jessica Kolterman, Nebraska Farm Bureau's first political director, and vice president/governmental relations, who will talk about how ads are developed
  Professor Sue Burzynski-Bullard, news-editorial professor, who will discuss the influence of blogging on the election
  Michael Wagner, UNL political science professor and J school alum, who will discuss issue framing, campaign ads and election coverage


Following the election, the college will host two post-election events on Nov. 5.

  • At 9 a.m., the college will host an international town hall distance meeting with the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication in Pristina, Kosovo, and the Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication in Kristiansand, Norway. Journalism students will have an open exchange with graduate journalism students to discuss and interpret the election results.
  • At 8 p.m., Jim Crounse, a political advertising consultant who works with the Obama campaign, will share his analysis of the election in a publicforum called "Election 2008: Why Did That Happen," in Anderson Hall 15. During Crounse's 26-year political career on Capitol Hill, he has helped elect many key figures in the Democratic Party. The event is open to the public.

Other election-related events at the college this semester included:
Daily Nebraskan editor Brian Hernandez blogged about the first presidential debate in real time. The New York Times enlisted student newspaper editors from around the country to weigh in on politics. Visit his blog.

The college hosted two Egyptian political bloggers in late September as part of an American University of Cairo-USAID project that sent bloggers to Nebraska and other U.S. journalism schools to help them better understand the U.S. election and write about to fellow Egyptians. The bloggers spoke to various journalism classes, met with representatives from the Nebraska's Republican and Democratic parties and attended student events on campus related to the election. The bloggers will return Oct. 30 to make observations during the week of the election. The college's Student Advisory Board helped to organize the events for the bloggers during their weeklong stay in October.

The college was host to a traveling news photo exhibit from the Associated Press in August and September. Called "The American President," the images depicted memorable moments throughout the history of the American presidency.

Trina Creighton, assistant professor broadcasting, tcreighton2@unl.edu, 402-472-4796
Michelle Hassler, assistant to the dean, mhassler3@unl.edu, 402-472-7050