Student Reporters from Franklin Pierce University Earn Accolades for New Hampshire Primary Reporting

Press Pass

January 25, 2008 

MANCHESTER, NH - Franklin Pierce University students had the opportunity to participate in New Hampshire's First in the Nation Presidential Primary, serving as pundits, pollsters, podcasters, video technicians and as contributors to YouTube's political footage. Student efforts were affirmed by the presidential candidates and their campaigns (who granted access and interviews), by the mainstream media (who treated student reporters and technicians as professional peers) and by web-based media including YouTube (whose political editor praised the video footage provided by the University and its fast turnaround time).

[View the students' video coverage on YouTube.]

"I don't know of any other college or university across the state that had the number of reporters getting up close to the candidates, asking questions and generating the volume of coverage that we produced," said junior Steven Dodrill, who served as the Pierce Media Group's political reporter and director of Fitzwater Connections. Fitzwater Connections is the program at the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce that focuses on political coverage of the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

In the course of the past year, Franklin Pierce students tracked the political winds, participated in professional polling, and followed presidential hopefuls around the state. Students also engaged in robust debate - and asked tough questions - when candidates visited campus. The flurry of activity preceding the primary included capturing hundreds of hours of video and audio, crafting hundreds of words into stories, sending countless e-mails, and building solid relationships with campaign staff and local media.

On the day of the primary, students arranged space at Franklin Pierce University's Manchester Center to serve as news production headquarters. The set-up was complete with a video editing suite, a set for filming interviews, an assignment desk and a whiteboard where students scribbled furiously to record unfolding events and keep track of teams of reporters.

Under the leadership of Dr. Kristen Nevious, director of the Fitzwater Center, and utilizing the training they received through Fitzwater Center programs, they sought and obtained press credentials and fanned into the streets of Manchester and surrounding towns. The region had become the focal point for candidates and media from across the nation, and students had little trouble finding candidates and analysts to interview. Their hard work paid off in several significant accomplishments.

  • Franklin Pierce student media were selected by New Hampshire Public Television to provide video footage of the Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Rudolph Giuliani campaigns on Primary Night.
  • Franklin Pierce student reporters and videographers were selected by WMUR-TV, New Hampshire's ABC affiliate, to provide video news clips for the television station's YouTube page. WMUR staff members even handed out free "flip cam" handheld video recorders so students could capture more video.
  • The Pierce Media Group's Political Reporter and Fitzwater Connections Director Steven Dodrill was featured in the Boston Herald along with George Stephanopoulos, chief Washington correspondent for ABC News, and Dan Rather.
  • Franklin Pierce students participated in pre-primary polling for the University's polling partnership with WBZ-TV in Boston. The final poll preceding the primary was the most accurate poll among a handful of major voter surveys by well-known national pollsters. The Franklin Pierce / WBZ-TV poll accurately predicted the close finish between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and again was within the margin of error in forecasting John McCain's spread of victory over Mitt Romney. The poll was quoted nationally.
  • The University's YouTube channel, containing footage of candidate interviews, was ranked in the Top 100 most viewed YouTube channels for most of Primary Day. The Franklin Pierce / Fitzwater Center YouTube channel topped out at #73 for a good portion of the afternoon.
  • YouTube's political editor was so impressed with the quantity, quality and fast uploading of students' work that he offered Franklin Pierce a position as a "branded partner" and content provider for the popular video portal site.

Dr. Nevious praised the students for their work and said she looked forward to working with them on continuing political coverage as the general election approaches. "The Fitzwater Center and the university couldn't be more proud of your contributions to the robust debate that is so essential to a healthy democracy," she said. "Our country's future is in good hands."