More than 100 students in the University of Miami’s School of Communication (SoC) were published nationally Tuesday after capturing the “spirit of America” during the presidential election.
A project of UM’s Knight Center for International Media and the SoC, The Miami Planet is an online, student-based publication that normally focuses on the environment. Election Day was an exception.
Student journalists were assigned to write 300-word vignettes about voters’ thoughts as they headed to the polls for the Planet. Joseph Treaster, a professor of print journalism, serves as the editor of the Planet and directed UM’s election coverage operation as well.
In addition to Treaster and the UM students, The Miami Planet’s effort involved 13 faculty members and more than a dozen volunteer editors. The publication also collaborated with 11 other universities across the nation to exchange stories and insight.
Charlotte Grimes, a professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University, chose to extend her students’ reporting project to other college groups in order to include diverse perspectives across the United States on a day of national importance.
Each university had its own website to post students’ content and also to promote the work of partner schools.
Since schools were bound to cover the election, it only made sense to share the coverage, Grimes said.
“At any given website for one of the participating schools, you can get glimpses into communities elsewhere,” she said. “It’s a great way to share our experiences of democracy.”
Gregory Shepherd, dean of the SoC, supported bringing the national reporting opportunity to the school.
“Experience outside of the classroom is essential to making a difference in education,” he said. “If we’re doing our jobs right, we’re giving students all kinds of experiences where they can … exercise their curiosity.”
Many students, like sophomore Amber Cuozo, felt they learned more from the experience than teachers could have prepared them for.
Cuozo, who is majoring in broadcast journalism and English literature, said she learned about how to deal with people she wanted to interview.
“The most difficult part was getting people to talk to me,” she said. “But it was a great experience to have under my belt.”