Main content
Home Archived News Tech Students to Learn from Watching Debate

Tech Students to Learn from Watching Debate

Many in the United States will watch the first presidential debate Wednesday evening.  Of those watching, several will be graduate students at Arkansas Tech University who will be analyzing how news organizations cover the debate.

 

Many in the United States will watch the first presidential debate Wednesday evening.  Of those watching, several will be graduate students at Arkansas Tech University who will be analyzing how news organizations cover the debate.

Students enrolled in Dr. Merlin Mann’s Journalistic Writing for Multi-Media course will watch the debate and subsequent social media coverage in class Wednesday evening to better understand how different media outlets treat various news subjects.

Each student enrolled in the class has selected a major news organization and will evaluate how the organization covers the debate on its various social media platforms.

Students in the course have been studying news organization websites, writing for websites and coverage decisions.  According to Mann, the political season offers enhanced learning opportunities for students to apply the skills and material they are learning in the classroom.

“Political season allows students to see coverage decisions in real-time,” said Mann.  “I feel this gives students a hands-on opportunity to learn and move forward.  It’s a good application of the material.”

This will not be the first time his students have analyzed news coverage by major news organizations.  On August 29, Hurricane Isaac made landfall and the Republic National Convention was in full swing, professional media had to make decisions about coverage of two major stories happening at the same time.  This situation allowed students to see how the major news organizations had to juggle coverage and switch to a political focus once the danger passed with Isaac.

“During one of the early classes this semester, Hurricane Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm shortly before class began for the evening,” said Mann.  “I made the decision to adjust class for the evening to view how major media outlets responded.  Students were able to see the coverage decisions happening in real-time, and I think for many of them it became a moment where what we’d been talking about began to really make sense.”

Mann said the positive response has encouraged him to look for future opportunities to incorporate such lessons into his classroom.

“I’ve seen what can be gained from this manner of teaching, and I’m much more confident that it helps students to learn,” said Mann.  “I’ve already thought about how something like this would work on a slow news day or at a time when there aren’t as many coverage decisions being made.”

In addition to helping understand the material, Mann says the project also helps students gain confidence in their skills as journalists.

“They’re critiquing the work of professional media, and they’ve all seen ways the media could do better,” said Mann.  “I believe a project like this will help the students realize they understand this field and could make a difference.”

Visit the Arkansas Tech Department of Speech Theatre and Journalism website.

]]>