Students work overnight on live coverage of US Election

Posted on Monday, November 12 2012

More than 200 students from Bournemouth University’s Media School worked through the night to provide live coverage of the US Presidential Election.

Multimedia Journalism, Television Production and Public Relations students were just some of those who worked on providing the live multimedia coverage – which included TV and radio reports, online news stories and blogging – as part of the News Lab 2012 project.

As well as helping to improve the skills and knowledge of the students involved, the project also aimed to make politics more engaging and accessible to the younger generation.

Student editor–in–chief of the project, Oscar Tollast, said: “The idea of the project was to provide coverage of the US election but to make it more engaging to a younger audience, and to make younger people care about international politics and maybe remove the sense of political apathy.

“It’s fresh and it’s different and we are providing alternative perspectives.

Students spent about six weeks preparing for the night, holding briefing sessions – including one hosted by former BBC Washington correspondent Stephen Sackur – and lectures about the US electoral system and the key issues and people involved in the election.

The coverage included live link ups with people in the US – including students from the University of Massachusetts – and interviews with top political commentators, such as Alastair Campbell, who was an aide for Tony Blair; Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who spent the night in the US Embassy in London; and Vice–Presidential candidate for the US Libertarian party, Judge Jim Gray.

Radio bulletins produced by the students were also broadcast live on Dorset–based station Hope FM, which has a large internet following in the USA, and the News Lab website received more than 16,000 hits.

A live television programme – with pre–recorded packages and interviews, live studio guests and up–to–date graphics and information about the voting counts – ran from 9pm until 7am, finishing shortly after Barack Obama’s victory speech.

And there were live broadcasts from student union bar Dylan’s, where there was a special US election themed quiz and debates.

Third year BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism student Oscar – who celebrated his 21st birthday on the day of the US election – added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience what it is like to be a journalist and people are getting a real taste of it, and a real buzz.

“I worked out that I will be up for at least 24 hours, but it is an experience and it’s not as though it happens every week.”

A number of lecturers from across the Media School helped the students to produce the multimedia coverage but the project did not count towards the students’ degrees and was purely extracurricular.

Karen Fowler–Watt, associate dean of journalism and communication at BU, said she was impressed by the work the students had put in.

“We were really stunned when so many students turned up to the first meeting and it has just been overwhelming actually to see the response of them and the commitment and dedication that they have shown working very long hours and being hugely professional in the way that they have tackled what is actually a very challenging concept.”

She added: “It has actually been very moving to watch – I am so impressed with them, I am so proud of them. I just think that the coverage has been very, very good and they look very professional and very slick.”

You can see some of the work produced as part of the News Lab project at: