Students, visitors from China covered the election

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Students from the College of Communications covered the Election Day in a variety of ways, and a delegation of students visiting Penn State from China will do the same while working with communications faculty and students.

In terms of broadcast journalism, "Centre County Report" -- available on Campus Cable (Channel 15 and Channel 98.1 in HD) and at CentreCountyReport.com -- provided live updates on the hour and half-hour beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, when polls close in Pennsylvania.

In addition, students provided live tweets throughout the night from @CentreCountyRep and updates on Facebook.

Four print journalism students completing an independent study with the Centre Daily Times covered the turnout and provided feature stories at voting precincts in the HUB-Robeson Center and near the University Park campus. Their stories were featured throughout the day at CentreDaily.com and included in print editions of the newspaper.

Several other classes had students working on photos and stories to be included on ComMedia, the showcase site for student work. Separate teams of reporters focused on a variety of Election Day races, including presidential results from Centre County, U.S. Senate results from Centre County, Pennsylvania row offices (attorney general, auditor general, treasurer) results, 5th Congressional District results, 77th State House results and 171st State House results; and a man-on-the-street story about undecided voters.

"Covering the election provides our students with an important hands-on opportunity," said Ford Risley, professor and head of the Department of Journalism. "They're gaining invaluable experience and doing professional-level work that can be found in broadcast, online and print outlets."

Penn State students were not the only ones chronicling the action from campus.

Twenty students from Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) have been on the University Park campus since last week to learn about the election process and how U.S. media covers an election.

The Chinese students started preparing for the trip to Penn State about a month ago. To cover the election and its influencing factors, the students split into subgroups and created a core topic of focus for each of those groups.

Zheng Li, one of the Chinese students, said her group is concentrating on the high unemployment rate.

"When students graduate what do they do?" she asked. "It's even harder for some students who have interest in fields such as history and literature, and philosophy."

Along with election coverage, the students' schedule includes trips to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, as well as tours of The Daily Collegian at Penn State and the studio and related classrooms for "Centre County Report."

Schichao Weng, a SISU junior interested in marketing, recognized that political issues are not the only important components of the election. Social media is playing a prominent role again this year.

Especially in China, thousands of miles from the U.S., Weng sees social media as "a window to the United States and the public opinion." Because of China's ban on Facebook and Twitter, he's especially interested in focusing on those sites and their role in the campaign.

The group of undergraduate students from China is reporting for various news organizations, and will see their work broadcast and published once they return home. 

As part of an ongoing relationship between the universities, SISU will play host to a group of Penn State international reporting students who travel to China next spring. The partnership provides both groups with the chance ot learn about international communications.

"Certainly the way they do journalism is different than the way we do it here," Risley said. "But journalism plays an important role in both societies. We want our students to meet and be exposed to students from all over the world."

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Last Updated November 15, 2012