Nov. 2, 2012
COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, firstname.lastname@example.org
WTAMU Honors Students to Work Election Night with Local TV Stations
CANYON, Texas—Election night will take on extra meaning for a group of students at West Texas A&M University. They won’t just be watching poll results, they also will be reporting them.
Seventeen students in the Attebury Honors Program at WTAMU have spent the semester learning the ins and outs of how politics and media work in an honors seminar titled “A Backstage Pass to the 2012 Presidential Election: Media, politics and Policy.” They will use that knowledge on election night Tuesday, Nov. 6 working in the newsrooms of Amarillo’s three television stations—KAMR, KFDA and KVII.
“They are pumped,” Dr. Leigh Browning, professor of mass communication, said. “There isn’t a mass communication major among them, but they ready. We have discussed every aspect on politics and the media, they have downloaded apps and fleshed out the truths and non-truths of every debate. Their eyes have been opened, they have mastered presidential discourse, and they are ready.”
Browning has always wanted to teach a course like this and has spent two years preparing for this class. She introduced the group to six different books on politics and the media with titles ranging from Game Change about the 2008 election to Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy. The students also have viewed documentaries, watched debates and have gained a new look and understanding about today’s political world.
“I was not politically informed before, but this class has taught me how to look for the truth. Dr. Browning always has an interesting spin, too.” Amy Harleson, a sophomore nursing major from Lubbock, said. “I took this class to be informed, and it has exceeded my expectations. It has opened my mind and as a first-time voter, I feel more confident in my decision.”
Browning, who once worked in the press pool as a reporter at KQLA-Manhatttan Q107 when Bob Dole announced his candidacy for president, has talked to the students about how political parties work as well as how the press room works. The students have learned not only how to ask questions at a press conference but also how to be the first one asked. The course so far has more than prepared them for a night at the local television stations working with election numbers and party headquarters. The group will close out the semester with a final class project focused on stump speeches.
The Attebury Honors Program at WTAMU offers an enriched learning community to more than 170 students through teaching, research and study abroad opportunities. For more information, call the honors program at 806-651-2734.