Political science and journalism students attended a special 2012 pre-election recording of This Week In Vermont at Vermont Public Television’s studio Nov. 2 in Burlington.
Invited by political science professor Richard Clark, students also got to talk to professional journalists regarding the pre-election political field.
What students didn’t expect was that their questions would be broadcast live.
Taylor Zimmer, a freshman studying secondary education and history, thought she was simply going to blend into the crowd. That became less likely once stagehands began removing chairs from the audience seating. Students from the University of Vermont and Johnson State College were ALSO in attendance.
“I was really, really nervous,” Zimmer said. “It was definitely very scary.”
Castleton senior Megan Harris thought talking with a panel of professionals would be a beneficial journalistic experience.
“You don’t get that opportunity often,” Harris said.
Elizabeth Diohep, a freshman from Rhode Island studying education, found herself very interested in the recent political elections and was surprised that “negative ads [were] beneficial for candidates, but out of place in Vermont.”
“In Rhode Island,” Diohep continued, “we have negative ads all the time…coming to Vermont and knowing that they didn’t deal with negative ads was a shock.”
What students found most interesting, however, was hearing about the less familiar elections in Vermont.
James McCormick, who works for Clark in CSC’s Polling Institute, felt better informed when the panelists discussed local races concerning treasurer and house, offices he was less-informed with.
“It was good to hear journalists talk because they do a lot more reporting and research, but it’s good to hear them explain,” McCormick said. “I thought it was a pretty good balance. I thought it was good to be able to talk to a panel.”
Subjects covered during the show included media endorsements dominating the final week before elections, endorsements from media buy-ins dominating, PACs focusing on Statehouse elections and collusion charges surrounding Attorney General William Sorrell.
The four-person panel featured Emerson Lynn of the St. Albans Messenger, Tom Kearney of the Stowe Reporter, Terri Hallenbeck of the Burlington Free Press and Anne Galloway of vtdigger.org.
Clark, who organized Castleton’s participation, felt the panel was “on their best behavior” despite the sensitive nature of the issues.
“It wasn’t Hardball with Chris Matthews by any stretch of the imagination,” Clark said. He also mentioned that there could be more visits to the Vermont Public Television studio in the future. “This was kind of a trial,” Clark continued. “If the opportunity presented itself, I would do it again.”