Mason Journalism Students Join C-SPAN Teleconference Class

Posted: March 30, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Mitchell

This spring, George Mason journalism students have a unique chance to interact with the likes of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, former White House Chief of Staff Mark McLarty, and former White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater in several press conference-style events. Communication professor Steve Klein has coordinated several teleconferenced events along with GMU-TV as part of a distance learning class developed and taught by Steve Scully, senior executive producer at C-SPAN.

Along with the University of Denver and Pace University in New York, Mason students participate in two-way, televised classes with Scully and these prominent guest speakers. Klein’s students use GMU-TV’s Innovation Hall telecourse studio, which is equipped with a podium, seats with microphones, and several television monitors. Students are able to ask questions and get immediate feedback from the guest and other students.

“We are plugged into something that is a breakthrough program, and Mason is at the forefront,” says Klein, who also coordinates the electronic journalism minor program. Along with help from GMU-TV’s Susan Kehoe, director, and Rich Eggleton, senior producer/director, Klein was able to coordinate most of the events to coincide with his Communication 361 course, Online Journalism.

On Tuesday, April 19, “Hardball” anchor and NBC/MSNBC reporter Chris Matthews will join Scully on the air, and all of Klein’s students are being offered the chance to participate via teleconference. Because of limited seating in the video studio, Klein asks students interested in obtaining a seat to e-mail him at sklein1@gmu.edu in advance with a question they would like to ask the guest speaker.

Klein, who has taught journalism for 16 years, 4 of them at Mason, also has an extensive list of in-the-flesh speakers this semester. As a 35-year veteran of the journalism trade, Klein says he always chuckles when his students are excited to see a “real journalist” come to class. “To them I’m just a professor. They want to hear from people who are out in the field every day.”

Klein says that networking is one of the best tools for getting speakers into his classroom. “I have two degrees of separation—if I don’t know a person, I know someone who does. I always tell my students to ‘keep people with you,’ and that it’s natural to network in this business.” In a recent class, Klein presented “Success Stories from COMM 399: Sports Writing and Reporting,” featuring five of his former students who are now working as journalists.

Senior communication major Evan Frank, a current COMM 361 class member, is enthusiastic about the teleconferenced events. “I don’t know of any other opportunities for Mason students, or college students in general, to interview national figures like Chris Matthews and Mario Cuomo. The experience is unique and great practice for aspiring reporters.”

For a full listing of Klein’s speakers this semester, see his web site.

Write to at