RIT Political Reporting Class Blogs About Presidential Race

Partnership with ‘Democrat and Chronicle’ allows student news pieces to run online

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At times, it can be challenging to “read between the lines” of political rhetoric during this year’s presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Where do the candidates really stand on key issues including health care, foreign policy and the economy? Many of these answers lie with a group of Rochester Institute of Technology students whose blogs are featured on the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle website.

Each student in the political reporting class in RIT’s Department of Communication has been paying close attention to both candidates and writing weekly “round ups” summarizing the latest election news. Students have also posted feature stories online related to the election and will soon be uploading videos. In addition, the students will post comments and stories on Nov. 6—Election Day—live from the Democrat and Chronicle newsroom.

“Our students’ blogs are hosted by the Democrat and Chronicle, which provides them with a live audience for their work,” says Andrea Hickerson, assistant professor of journalism in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, and course instructor. “It raises the bar when the students know that the public can view their work and post comments. Additionally, college students have low voting rates. Our students are being challenged to learn about politics and write about it in a way that is helpful and informative for their peers.”

Students are also encouraged to sharpen their social-media skills by publicizing their work on Facebook and Twitter.

“I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of what comes from writing for outside readers,” says William Palmer, a fourth-year photojournalism student from Newark Valley, N.Y. “Everything I’ve done in school so far has only been seen by my peers and teachers, and maybe a family member if I’m especially proud of the work. Politics is a polarizing topic, so there may be some interaction, controversy or education involved. I’m also hoping our readers receive an understanding of what college-age individuals actually think about politics and learn how politics will actually impact them.”

Through this project, Emily Clark, a third-year journalism student from Henrietta, has learned how to write clearly and effectively while also providing an educational component for the community.

“I’ve learned how to create catchy headlines, how to keep posts short, simple and direct, and how to best convey information interestingly,” she says. “I hope others will see that politics is extremely exciting from reading the blog and that it’s so important to get involved. As cliché as it may sound, each individual vote matters and I’ve never seen that more clearly since I began working on the blog. There is so much to learn, so much to be informed of. I hope the blog really reaches out to people and makes a difference in Rochester’s outlook on politics.”

To see the student blogs, go to blogs.democratandchronicle.com/voteup-rit/ or follow the students on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Vote-Up-NY-at-RIT/402611276455012.

The project, running through mid-November, is the latest outgrowth of the partnership between RIT’s journalism program and the Democrat and Chronicle.