Political Journalism Class Connects with Media, VIPs

Posted: January 23, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryann Doyle

As the 2008 presidential campaign rolls on, students who took Steve Klein’s COMM 399 section of Political Journalism this past fall will have a better understanding of the presidential selection process and how the media and politics intersect.

Steve Klein
Steve Klein
Creative Services photo

COMM 399 puts particular emphasis on how the media does their job when covering politics, how the media reflects a candidate, how politicians work with the press and the manner in which the candidates react to and manipulate the media in their campaigns.

In addition, the class provides an in-depth look at what candidates have to do in order to capture the party nomination. It also examines the role of the media, interest groups and the demands of campaign financing.

But what makes this class different is that Mason students collaborate, interact and learn with students from the University of Denver and Pace University while they are connecting with C-SPAN studios in Washington, D.C., via videoconferencing in the GMU-TV video studio.

Chris Malone teaches the Pace University class and Steve Scully, political editor of C-SPAN, teaches the University of Denver class from the C-SPAN Washington studio.

“Students have two-way interactions with students from geographically diverse areas of the country,” says Klein, who is coordinator of the electronic journalism minor. “Where else can you have three professors, different venues and the opportunity to interact with people who otherwise it would be very difficult to interact with? I think it makes this class very unique.”

For the first half of the class period, Mason students are connected with Denver and Pace students for collaborative lecturing, discussion and questions. After a short break, all three classes reconvene with Scully, who moderates a live conversation and interviews with a variety of media and political guests from the C-SPAN studios. This portion of the class is also televised on C-SPAN3.

This past semester, students watched live interviews and interacted with guests such as Matt Felling, former co-editor of the CBS blog, Public Eye; Karl Rove, former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff of the Bush White House; Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate; and Frank Fahrenkopf, cochairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

This was the third time Klein’s Political Journalism class was offered at Mason; it is only offered in the fall. However, the videoconference collaboration has continued into the current semester with Klein’s Online Journalism class, COMM 361. Guests this spring will include historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, former Vice President Walter Mondale, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and FoxNews political reporter Brit Hume.

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