Students Get a Chance to Witness, Report on Presidential Bid Announcement

By Buzz McClain

The students of COMM 303: Writing across the Media at George Mason University will have an exciting real-world learning opportunity Wednesday when they “cover” a former Rhode Island governor and senator as he announces his candidacy for president.

LIncoln Chafee

LIncoln Chafee

The appearance by Lincoln Chafee (D) at George Mason’s Arlington Campus kicks off “Issues Forum, 2016,” a primary season-long series co-hosted by the Financial Times newspaper and Mason’s Center for Politics and Foreign Relations at Mason’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs.

“If I’m teaching journalism, what better way than to have them meet a possible presidential candidate?” said Mason professor Beth Jannery, director of Mason’s journalism program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “I want to change how things are done in the classroom and help the students make the connection to the real world. I’d like them to see ‘This is how you do an interview; this is how you cover a story’—all the things we’re talking about inside the classroom.”

Bob Guttman

Bob Guttman

As for the free public forum, Robert Guttman, director of the Center for Politics and Foreign Relations, says that Mason, as an “objective, nonpartisan” institution on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., is ideally suited to co-host the series with the Financial Times.

Guttman facilitated a successful similar series of appearances when he was a professor at Johns Hopkins University during previous campaigns.

“I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the last 30 years and [the politicians] know they’re getting a fair shake—and an interview in the world’s largest financial newspaper.”

Chafee’s 5:30 p.m. speech this Wednesday at Mason’s Founders Hall Auditorium on the Arlington Campus will be followed on Thursday with an appearance by former Virginia senator Jim Webb (D), a presumptive candidate, at 10:30 a.m.

Jannery’s journalism students, many of whom are first-time news correspondents, will each write an article intended for publication.

“The deadline is Friday,” Jannery said with a laugh. “I think they were expecting a week or so.”