Contentious GOP Primary to be Covered by Ithaca College Journalism Students

By Dan Verderosa, February 19, 2016

Contentious GOP Primary to be Covered by Ithaca College Journalism Students

Updated Feb. 23, 2016 at 2:30 p.m.

A story by Ithaca College student journalists was featured on the NBCBLK website: "What Do Young Voters Want? A Snapshot From South Carolina"

Student journalists also contributed to a second story for NBCBLK: "Dem Party Chair Works to 'Engage and Energize Young Voters' in SC"

With all eyes on South Carolina for the presidential primaries this weekend, Ithaca College students are in Charleston and Columbia to cover the Republican contest for NBC News.

Associate Professor James Rada and Assistant Professor Anthony Adornato of IC’s Roy H. Park School of Communications are leading a team of nine students to South Carolina from Feb. 17 to 21. The students will interview voters and shoot video footage for use by NBC News. They will be documenting the entire trip via Twitter at #ICatSCPrimary.

The South Carolina primary, held on Feb. 20, is one of several early-state presidential primaries seen as a key stepping stone to the presidency. With the exception of 2012 victor Newt Gingrich, the winner of the state’s GOP primary has gone on to win the Republican nomination. This year’s Republican primary has been particularly contentious.

Rada wants his students to cut through the vitriol and move past the poll numbers in order to learn what issues South Carolina voters care about.

“What I’m hoping the students are going to gain from this is not to follow the ‘horserace’ mentality and the polls, but to focus on the issues and see what it means to be an investigative journalist,” Rada said.

In addition to covering the primary, the students will also film short, documentary interviews on topics including the removal of the confederate flag from South Carolina’s state capitol building. They will film at the Penn Center and the Mitchelville Preservation Project, two African-American community organizations. The Penn Center was established as a school for former slaves and their descendants in 1862, and played an important role as a meeting place during the Civil Rights Movement. The Mitchelville Preservation Project is dedicated to the preservation of and education of the public about Mitchelville, the first post-Civil War settlement for freed slaves.

The students will also meet with and film students from the University of South Carolina and Claflin University.

Rada says the experience will enable students to gain professional experience while also being introduced to people from new and different cultures.

“They’re getting a professional experience that there is no way we can simulate in the classroom,” said Rada. “By the same token, given that all of our students are from the Northeast, they will get a broader perspective of political, social, cultural issues from different parts of the country.”

The interviews shot at the Penn Center and Mitchelville may appear on NBCBLK, NBC News’ website dedicated to black issues, news, and culture. On Feb. 19, the students will take over the NBCBLK Instagram account.

The students taking part include seniors Emily Fedor and Emily Masters, juniors Sara Kim, Ciara Lucas, and Sydney O’Shaghnessy, as well as sophomores Kenneth Bradley, Tom Garris, Kyle Stewart, and Emily Varga.

This is the third time Ithaca College has teamed up with NBC to provide news coverage of important events. Students travelled to Washington, D.C. for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 2013, providing coverage that was used on the weekend edition of NBC Nightly News and PBS. In 2015, student coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March was featured on NBC News and Buzzfeed.