Notes from the chair
UW Election Eye: A transformational experience for students and faculty
The first thing David Horsey, three students, and I did in South Carolina was go to Sunday church. And then we went to another church.
That’s how UW Election Eye 2012 began, in mid-January. UW Election Eye 2012 is a blog partnership between the Department of Communication and The Seattle Times. The Times hosts and maintains the blog, while students and faculty in Communication produce the content. It’s here. Our focus since its launch has been the presidential campaign, particularly the Republican nomination contest, and we are now including a substantial focus on state and local issues.
We kicked off the blog by spending a week in South Carolina prior to the state’s Republican presidential primary on January 21. On that opening Sunday we began by attending worship services at First Baptist Church of Columbia -- where the vote for secession was taken in 1860. In the week that followed we attended campaign rallies, interviewed hundreds of voters, heard personal story after story, covered two presidential debates (thanks in big part to 1987 COM alum Bryan Monroe, who now heads up cnnpolitics.com), saw the passion of Ron Paul supporters, watched Newt Gingrich rise and Mitt Romney fall, and saw all the high and low moments of presidential politics face to face. We have since replicated this experience in Nevada, Colorado, and Washington state. Horsey, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist and 1976 alum, has joined us periodically on these journeys, bringing his journalistic wisdom and sharing our hankering for fast food.
The UW Election Eye team consists of nearly a dozen students and faculty, drawn across our undergraduate program, our Master’s in Digital Media program, and our Doctoral program. In spring quarter UW Election Eye will expand to include two fully enrolled courses -- one at the undergraduate level and one in our Master’s in Digital Media program. We are working closely with the Times to produce content, and we also are making regular appearances on KUOW and KCTS. We expect to run the project at least through Election Day.
It is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my 14 years at UW. It is an unbelievable privilege to work with talented, ambitious students who push themselves to the wall in order to report on, understand, and critique politicians, issues, and ideas in the service of democracy. It’s one thing to read about politics. It’s another thing to be asking the questions, doing the research, taking and editing the video, and pinpointing the valuable spaces.
All of this is possible because of the generosity of a supporter of the Communication program, who provided a financial gift to cover the costs. This supporter wanted students to have the chance to see candidates, voters, and other parts of America up close. CityClub of Seattle has also just contributed some funds for the project.
For the dozen students and faculty who have been involved from the get-go, it has been transformational. For the nearly 30 more students who will get on board in spring quarter, it will be equally powerful.
I would like to ask all of you to consider supporting transformational experiences for our students. Our annual spring fundraiser is the evening of April 26. Every dollar, every dime will go to our students. It also is a darn fun time: a silent auction, a live auction, wine and hors d’ouevres, lots of great alumni and supporters, students and faculty, and a beautiful location. Even if you can’t attend, please consider registering and making a donation. It really, really matters. Please join us.
Register here >>