The Media School and the Department of Political Science will stage IU Bloomington’s own “election night central” Nov. 8, with coverage on the big screen in the Franklin Hall commons and a series of panel discussions before returns start coming in on news channels.
The idea to collaborate with an evening of discussion grew from a few groups of students looking for ways to gather to watch election results, said senior Sara Zaheer, political science major who also is on the political science student advisory board.
“We had been talking about hosting an election night viewing party and were talking with faculty in other areas to speak about this election in terms of polling, media and other topics,” Zaheer said. “We thought researchers could give us some explanation of what has happened during this election season.”
Faculty and researchers from both units began to network with one another, and Betsi Grabe, Media School associate dean, helped by inviting faculty to participate and offering Franklin Hall commons – with its 24-by-12-foot screen – as a venue.
“It’s the biggest living room in the state,” she said, “and we’re located right by one of the main entrances to campus, so we’re happy to welcome visitors and be part of this event.”
She said students, including Zaheer and graduate students Kyle Heatherly and Edo Steinberg, guided the development of the panel topics and helped enlist panelists.
Steinberg, a doctoral candidate focusing on political satire, first considered an election-related event at Franklin Hall after his first tour of the building last summer. As the election night event idea evolved, he began to like the idea of having a free flowing discussion instead of individual presentations.
“This will be much more interactive and more fitting for the event,” said Steinberg, who will serve as a panelist for the media coverage discussion.
Those who joined the project liked the platform, too.
“We liked the possibility of going beyond a passive event of individuals just watching results to something with more structure and opportunity for panelists to share their knowledge with attendees,” said Bernard Fraga, assistant professor of political science who studies American elections and voting behavior.
During a planning session, Fraga said the idea of brief commentary during breaks in televised returns transformed into “a robust academic experience with panels of experts, including faculty, undergrad and grad students, commenting on these topics.”
Doctoral student Kyle Heatherly will moderate the panel on ethics and norms of political journalism. He said his questions for the panelists will come from discussions in the previous two panels as well as from the Twitter #MediaSchool_ElectionNight.
“I am also planning to steer the discussion to any breaking news developments that happen on the screen during the panel,” he said, so the discussion will be timely and up-to-the-minute.
Zaheer will serve on that panel and said she hopes to represent the millennial view.
“We expect transparency from our governing bodies, and everyone is addicted to information,” she said. “But the concept of what is real news is an important topic to explore.”
The new facilities in Franklin Hall will enable the school to share the event with those who cannot attend through Facebook and other live streaming. Scott Myrick, assistant director of facilities and technology, said this will be the first live event produced through the new control room in Franklin Hall. The cameras hooked up in the commons will run back to the control room, and viewers can follow along on Facebook.
The event kicks off at 4 p.m., then continues with this schedule:
- 4 p.m.: The big screen will be tuned to election coverage.
- 5 p.m.: The first panel will focus on media coverage of the election. Its members will include associate professor Julia Fox, assistant professor Jason Peifer and graduate student Edo Steinberg, all of The Media School; and professor Marjorie Hershey of the Department of Political Science. Assistant professor Bernard Fraga of the Department of Political Science will moderate.
- 6:15 p.m: The second panel will cover international perspectives on the election. Its members include Media School assistant professor Julien Mailland, and doctoral students Diana Sokolova and Umberto Famulari; and political analyst Sergio Berensztein. Media School professor of practice Elaine Monaghan will moderate.
- 7:20 p.m.: The last panel will discuss the ethics and norms of political journalism. Members include Media School assistant professor Nick Browning, professor of practice Elaine Monaghan, and associate professor Mike Conway; and IU undergraduate student Sara Zaheer. Media School doctoral student Kyle Heatherly will moderate.
After each panel, attendees will have time to ask questions or interact with panelists. After the last panel, the screen will carry election coverage throughout the evening.
If you can’t be on campus, you still can observe the evening’s events.
- The school will live stream on Facebook, with the school’s professional staff and students producing the event.
- WIUX student radio will provide live stream and commentary from Franklin Hall, 99.1 FM or at wiux.org.
- Local PBS affiliate WTIU will set up in the balcony overlooking the commons area to broadcast the action. The station’s broadcast that evening will originate in the commons, connected via fiber optic cable back to its Studio 6 in the Radio-Television Building.
- The school also will live tweet, so be sure to follow on Twitter, @IUMediaSchool, #MediaSchool_ElectionNight.