The first time Philip Dixon, chair of the journalism department at the John H. Johnson School of Communications, was asked about the idea of covering the 2008 election, his first response was “no!”
When I asked him about what the success of the Election Day project means for the University as a whole, Dixon replied, “Anyone who looks at the work done by undergraduate students, (on the Web site), I want them to say, something good is going on at Howard.”
But the more he thought about it, the more reasons occurred to him to give it a try. “This is not the kind of thing you want to do unless the story merits it,” said Dixon. “This historic presidential election required unprecedented coverage.”
With support from the University, students, staff and faculty from the School of Communications were sent to different polling locations around Washington, D.C., on Election Day to report on the proceedings.
The department set up a Web site—www.blackcollegeview.com—which represents the fruits of the student’s hard work. On the site are feature articles, video broadcasts and photographs detailing the election coverage. Students worked on stories throughout the day, staying until late the next morning to report on the election results. The site was updated as the day progressed, with new pictures, articles and video broadcasts being added.
Dixon said that the election coverage project “succeeded beyond our ambition, and in ways not anticipated.”
Junior Zelena Williams, a print journalism major in the School of Communications, was one of the students involved in the project and the lead photographer on the project. “The most exciting part of the experience was probably making my way into the poll not only as a member of the media, but also as a professional,” she said. “I liked the fact that we were a cohesively functioning unit, checking and balancing one another and stepping in when necessary for the purpose of progression.”
Praising the efforts of everyone involved in the project, Dixon said, “This was special. This was possible because of the wonderful students and committed faculty.” He also noted the effects the whole effort had on students and faculty alike. “This brought faculty and students together,” he said.