The course objectives are much the same as last time. They include developing a journalistic blog that offers fair and balanced commentary about media coverage, gathering and curating social media to tell and present stories about campaigns and elections; and analyzing how candidates use the media – and money – to shape their campaign messages. There's no course textbooks this time. However, I have negotiated with the Poynter Institute's News University to provide the students with access to some interesting and relevant course modules. They will include "Reporting on Religion and Political Candidates," "Social Media and Your 2012 Election Coverage," "Political Fact-Checking: Tips and Tricks for the 2012 Election" and "How to Work With Campaign Finance Data."
The students have individually chosen to monitor election news coverage from CNN, NBC News, Politico, The New York Times or The Washington Post as weekly beat assignments. They have also each picked a U.S. Senate race – in either Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri or Ohio – from which to analyze in a 1,500-word paper and to make a 15-minute class presentation. They will also similarly analyze and offer a presentation on one of these traditional campaign concerns: abortion, education, family values/civil unions, health care and homeland security.
I hope to again present relevant guest speakers. Last semester's group greeted, among others, Sharif Durhams, Mike Gousha, Charles Franklin and Eugene Kane. Also proud to say that a student from the spring, Tessa Fox, used the course as a springboard for a wonderful opportunity with The Washington Post.
Finally, this semester's class schedule better matches when "On the Issues with Mike Gousha" – the public affairs program that brings newsmakers and policy shapers to campus – is held at Marquette's law school. My students are excited to get to witness and live tweet from the "On the Issues" event featuring former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) on October 4, the morning after the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney. So am I.