Smartphones and wireless Internet are the media tools of the 21st century, and in 2011, IWU students used them to deliver the first-ever televised election coverage in Marion, Indiana. WIWU-TV planned to carry election results for the first time because of advances in internet streaming technology that allow live reports. Several weeks before the event, the station was invited to include technology from Vericorder that uses iPhones and other iOs devices to gather, produce and send multimedia content.
Dr. Randall E. King, Director of Broadcast Media and Chair of the Division, decided to accept Vericorder’s offer to report election night on television, radio and online and use Convergent Journalism and Media Communication majors for team coverage. “We like these big events that let us see what is technically possible, and in our community this year’s elections were a big story,” King said.
Vericorder developed a special Elections 2011 website for the coverage. Students in the field captured audio, video and still photos, edited the content on site and filed it directly to the web site for playback.
Sophomore Media Communication major Jeremy Sharp learned being a “multimedia” reporter meant pulling yourself in many different directions. He said, “election night was fast-paced and stressful but a really valuable experience. It was great to work with technology in a way I had never done before.” Online editors from The Sojourn, IWU’s student newspaper, kept the election numbers updated online and also edited the multimedia content coming in from the field.
For live TV, one reporter each was posted at Democratic and Republican headquarters and filed live reports during the evening, some using Skype technology. It wasn’t always the clearest signal, but the reporters and field producers managed to get winners and losers from the major races on-air before the evening ended.
Senior Journalism major and Sojourn managing editor Molly Meyer put on her broadcasting hat for the evening. “Experiencing the energy of a live news broadcast was incredible,” she said. “Knowking that we were the only TV station talking to the candidates as the votes were coming in and feeling the tension of the unknown was both exciting and encouraging.”
The election team even included a few students new to IWU media efforts. Recent transfer student Justin Lehman tried his hand at multimedia on his brand new iPhone. He called the night, “on the job training at its finest.”
Dr. King said this will not be the last time the IWU Division of Communication media outlets work together on a major project, nor will it be the last time trying something cutting edge. “The future of news is mobile,” he said. “We’re going to equip the next generation of storytellers with the latest tools but always make sure they see it’s the quality and accuracy of the story that matters most.”
Watch behind-the-scenes highlights from the election coverage: