A group of University of Southern Mississippi students studying political science and journalism took part in an interactive program hosted by C-SPAN on its ‘Road to the White House 2012” tour bus, which visited the Hattiesburg campus on Thursday, Nov. 3.
Senior political science major Katie Wilson of Biloxi, Miss.; broadcast journalism major Rachel Beech of Brandon, Miss.; and Justin Mitchell of Bay St. Louis, Miss. took the opportunity to ask questions in a live broadcast of C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program to guest Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.).
The questions focused on domestic and international economic issues, including opportunities for growth in the American economy and what the future holds for U.S. –European relations with respect to fragile global markets.
‘I think it’s great that C-SPAN is reaching out to students at the college level to get them involved in the political process and engaged in the issues,” said Wilson, who asked Huizenga about his thoughts on relations between the U.S. and Europe in the midst of the current financial crisis. ‘It was my first time on the news, and it was exciting.”
Wilson said she has watched C-SPAN but participating in the live event helped her learn much more about the inner workings of the network, which covers news from across the political spectrum, among other programming.
Beech said she appreciated the opportunity to talk with Huizenga, who is new to Capitol Hill. She asked him about the state of the country’s fragile economy and if he sees room for growth despite the present challenges that could hinder expansion.
“It was a good experience for me as a broadcast journalism major to see firsthand how this kind of show is produced and managed, and I appreciate C-SPAN choosing our university for this visit,” Beech said. “It’s a great way to get students engaged in the political process.”
Associate dean of Arts and Letters Dr. Mark Wrighton said the experiences gave students an opportunity to “get a sense of the behind-the-scenes effort it takes to put together a show for television.”
Mitchell said he was impressed with the work of Jeremy Art, digital and social media specialist who was on board the bus busily maintaining communication through social media sites Twitter and Facebook about the event. For Mitchell, that’s a sign that there’s room for future graduates like him to take his skills into the realm of social media. “He’s here managing multiple Twitter accounts, getting information out there,” Mitchell said. “That’s encouraging (for the job market),” he said.
Art said C-SPAN is on the cutting edge of engaging with corporate media to get the message out about its programming, whether through Twitter or Facebook, among other communication avenues. “Part of my job is to help execute that,” he said. He noted that the relationship the network has with social media entities gives it a unique opportunity to have input on how the medium can best help C-SPAN reach its audiences.
“It’s (social media) still very new, so there’s no ‘here’s how we used to do it,’ ” he said. “It’s steadily going forward, minute by minute, and never stops.”
He hopes C-SPAN’s outreach through the Road to the White House bus tour will continue to get younger voters at the high school and college level to see themselves as important actors in the political system whose participation can make a meaningful impact.
“We’re seeing more new voters with each election, and our hope is that when they interact with us, they become more informed voters, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this bus,” he said.
To view the episode of Washington Journal featured the Southern Miss students, online visit http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/Huiz