Journalism Students Head to Washington D.C. to Cover the U.S. Presidential Election


Six journalism students take a group picture in front of The White House on the last day of the trip.

After covering the Taiwan Presidential Elections this past January, the Department of Journalism and Communication organized and sponsored the  “U.S. Presidential Election 2012: Hong Kong Shue Yan University Student Reporting Trip.”

Six students were chosen to go to Washington D.C. from October 27 to November 8 where they reported for student media, along with meeting various senior executives at major news outlets including The Washington Post and The New York Times.  For the students it was an eye opening experience, and a chance to see how journalism and newsrooms operate in the U.S.

The students were hosted by the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, where they observed how the professional reporters covered the election.  In addition, they were met with a surprise;  students had the chance to cover Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York, New Jersey and the East Coast on October 29 and 30.

Other than reporting on the election, the students also met with senior editors including Jody Brannon at The National Journal, Virgil Smith at Gannett Inc. and veteran journalist Jim Laurie at CCTV’s Washington D.C. bureau.

“The trip was a blend of educational, cultural and knowledge exchange, and an example of how the University and Department are very supportive of giving students additional exposure and opportunities beyond the classroom,” said lecturer Amy Wu who led the trip.  “We certainly hope to do more of such trips and exchanges down the road.”

Students were impressed with how major newsrooms were combining print and digital.   “The Washington Post and The New York Times not only print their news on the newspaper, they also post them online,” said Wendy Chan. “This can expend their readership , and also help them provide multimedia presentation, so as to let the readers have more choices of contents.”

Students stand in front of the The Washington Post’s newspaper vending machine with copies of the paper in hand.

As part of 21st century journalism and amidst fast changing technologies, reporters now use a variety of storytelling tools including smartphones and social media. This trip followed the latest trend of mobile journalism (MOJO). Students used iPhones to do their reporting, and uploaded the information onto social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Weibo, and provided instant election updates for readers by blogging.

The trip and coverage changed the way that student Ryan Fung viewed news coverage. Fung said that before going on the trip he was not a big believer of MOJO. “After observing the reporters from Voice of America, who used iPhone and Skype to live streamfrom Republican Party headquarters on  Election Night, I learned that MOJO is going to be part of the wave of the future, and it is the most time and cost efficient way of news production,” said Fung.

One of the highlights of the trip was when students visited The American University and attended Professor Charles Lewis’s investigative reporting class. The American University students were curious about the media environment of China and Hong Kong, and were very eager to ask engage in discussion and exchange about issues regarding censorship and reporting practices.

“Before visiting I thought that the class environment would be very serious especially since they were masters’ level students, but we found the class format and discussion very interactive. The professor and students were chatting in a conversational and casual way,” said Edith Leung. “They were very eager to get to know us, and they made the three-hour lecture fun and memorable.’

Students have a lively discussion and exchange with masters students at American University.

Sources: November Issue 2012

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