The students in Ithaca College associate professor James Rada’s media literacy course have their fingers on the pulse of New York voters. In the month leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, the students interviewed voters across Tompkins County, New York, producing a series of news articles and videos for Syracuse.com, the online partner of The Post-Standard.
The students were charged with breaking from traditional news coverage of elections in order to provide in-depth coverage and unique insights about how and why people vote. They interviewed voters about a range of topics, including trust in government, the role of political activists and what political issues they find most concerning. They also produced a three-part video in which voters with different views discussed politics over dinner.
Rada said the collaboration benefits both the students and Syracuse.com, which is ranked first in market reach among online news outlets in the U.S. While the news site gets extra reporters in the field, the students get real-life experience.
“The students’ stories go through an editorial process similar to what they’ll experience when they enter the industry,” said Rada, who teaches in the Department of Journalism at the college’s Roy H. Park School of Communications. “There are only a few journalism programs in the country that engage in industry collaborations such as this, wherein they hold their students to industry-level expectations and standards.”
After Election Day, the students will produce follow-up pieces that reflect back upon the midterms and look forward to what the elections mean for the country. These projects will take the form of on-air reports for WICB, one of Ithaca College’s student radio stations, as well as multimedia pieces that offer long-form analysis of the elections.