Live Election Coverage Gives J-School Students a Taste of Real-World Reporting

Over 360 students from the School of Journalism got their first taste of real-world reporting as they covered the 2016 presidential election, breaking in the state-of-the-art Spartan Newsroom in ComArtSci.

​Fully equipped for the day with cameras, lights, editing bays, and work stations, the newsroom was focused into six separate areas – photo, design/graphics, video, social media, news desk, and the assignment desk – all working together to bring live election coverage to the J-School’s social media channels and MI First Election website.

​Students at the news desk were tasked with heading to polling stations throughout East Lansing, interviewing voters, non-voters, and first time voters. Their stories were then sent to the assignment desk to be uploaded to the website.

​“It’s pushed my comfort zone for sure to go around the community and ask random strangers about each of their experiences while voting, but it also gave me great communication experience,” said journalism junior Kathleen Kennedy. “Everybody was generally pretty nice… [and] it was an overall good experience for me.”

​At the social media station, students shared recent stories from reporters in the community, as well as the MI First Election site. Some also tracked polling data, providing real-time information and coverage of the day’s events to students.​

​“One thing that I’ve been working on is the voter fraud going on, telling students that they can vote online or via Twitter and Facebook. So, I’ve been gathering posts about that so we can embed them into different articles,” said Jamie Brewer, journalism senior.

​Students at the design and photo stations pulled together images and graphics, working with expert faculty to edit and upload to the website. Some photos even sparked future stories, such as the one taken at IM West of the 2-hour long wait time students had before they could vote.

​Live video was recorded at the video station, where a real broadcast news desk was stationed in the middle of the Newsroom. Students got the chance to go on the air, live from ComArtSci. For many, it was their first time acting as a true broadcast reporter.

​“I don’t think there is any other college or journalism school that even comes close to this cutting edge [news] room,” said Jason Ruff, senior broadcast journalism and history major. “I can’t thank the staff, the alumni, and the donors here enough for making all of this possible because it really is cutting edge. Just to be part of this and also be on air is remarkable and I’m so thrilled about it.”​

​Catch up on all of the stories and videos created by journalism students on election day on the MI First Election website. The Spartan Newsroom will officially debut in January of 2017.

By Nikki W. O'Meara