A live telecast of the first presidential debate drew a crowd of more than 350 members of the Trojan community to the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism on Oct. 3, as the various student media kicked into high gear to cover the news.
The event, which included a panel discussion co-hosted by the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy (CCLP) and the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, was “the largest-ever debate viewing on the USC campus,” according to the CCLP.
As reporters from NBC, CBS and the Associated Press packed the East Lobby of USC Annenberg, student media organizations hustled to report, tweet and blog their live coverage of the debate.
Reporters and editors at Neon Tommy, USC Annenberg’s digital news site, filled the newsroom to put together a package that featured more than 20 debate-related articles.
For each round of questions, staffers published a piece summarizing key points and quotes, ensuring that headlines were updated every 20 minutes. Post-debate coverage included the responses of political blogs and journals to Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s strong showing and opinion pieces detailing the evening’s best and worst moments for both Democrats and Republicans.
“I’ve never been more impressed with our staff,” said Paresh Dave, executive director of Neon Tommy. “In our four-and-half-years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group this engaged, this self-motivated and this talented. We’re showing students can learn a lot on the job, do real work and make a positive effect on helping readers and viewers understand what’s happening in the world.”
A television segment for Annenberg TV News used the large crowd to paint an overall picture of political involvement and partisanship within the USC student community, interviewing representatives from both the USC College Democrats and USC College Republicans. The piece also focused on the effect of Romney’s “Big Bird” comment upon social media.
The Daily Trojan also covered the debate and CCLP-Unruh Institute panel. Following the discussion, reporters conducted a private interview with USC Professor Tom Hollihan.