TSU journalism symposium

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 27, 2001

tackles Election 2000


Staff Writer

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Were you among the millions that thought Election 2000 would never end? Did you think the press was to blame for misleading Americans about ballot results?

With all the news coverage implying that Bush was president one day and then Gore the next, it was easy to be confused and disgusted.

"Who picked the President, the people or the Press?" was the topic of the Hall School of Journalism’s annual symposium.

A panel discussion was followed by questions from the audience.

Panel members were guest speakers from newspapers and TV stations from around the country and two students from the Hall School of Journalism.

Panel members were: Carl Rochelle, former Correspondent in CNN’s Washington, D. C. bureau; Louis "Skip" Perez, Executive Editor of The Ledger in Lakeland Florida; Noah Bierman, Reporter for the Palm Beach Florida Post; Chuck Raasch, National Correspondent for Gannett News Service’s Washington bureau; Bob Howell, award winning news anchor and educator.

Student panelists were Traci Johnson, Tropolitan Editor, and Robyn Duett, who will be the student news director for TSU-TV beginning this summer.

Opening comments were made by Dr. Steven Padgett, academic dean of the Hall School, followed by comments by Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., chancellor of TSU.

Bob Howell, educator and award winning journalist, was the moderator for the panel discussion.

The first item of discussion was ballots, votes, and when the they first became breaking news in the 2000 election.

Skip Perez said he had never seen anything like it in the 30 years he has been working and he stayed in the newsroom the whole time the night the vote recount became breaking news.

"They pushed back the press date (at The Ledger) until 2 a.m. to get the latest edition of the story," said Perez. "All major wire services except the Associated Press ran that Bush was elected. At first we ran the headline ‘All Eyes on Florida’, then at 3:30 a.m. changed it to ‘Bush Elected’. Then the problems started."

Traci Johnson spoke about finding out what was going on during Election 2000 and sharing it with other students.

"It was a real learning experience for us and trying to educate the other students about what was going on," said Johnson.

Other topics discussed included: The networks’ role in blame for their election coverage, reporters losing their objectivity after spending too many months on the topic, thoughts on campaign coverage, the "chad" guy, networks projecting winners, process of competition and how the Internet plays into political coverage.

The most memorable quote of the day was by Noah Bierman.

"It was Al Gore’s election to lose and he lost it," said Bierman.

Hawkins complimented the Hall School students for receiving 57 excellence in journalism awards in the past year. Hawkins also spoke about the accomplishments of Hall School graduates all over the country and how they "learned through experience" while they were enrolled at TSU.

Padgett also complimented Hall School graduates, saying that "Hall School’s program makes students more marketable and more valuable."

The symposium was held at the Adams Center auditorium at Troy State University on Thursday, April 26, and lasted from 10 a.m. until 11:45 a.m.

It was sponsored in part by a grant from the Alabama Press Association.