Journalism students cover Hamden mayoral election
November 14, 2023
November 14, 2023
The journalism students, who are working as part of the HQNN senior capstone course, used the election process to develop an authentic idea of what it is like working in a newsroom capacity, and all that is required of it.
“These seniors covered the primary the second week of class and it was really hard. But over the course, they get used to the workflow, they figure out how to work with each other. Many of the students have no previous newsroom experience. Well, now they do,” said Molly Yanity, professor and chair of journalism and director of the graduate journalism program at Quinnipiac.
On November 7, HQNN students were given a unique and challenging task – cover the municipal election in real time.
“Our biggest goal for our coverage was to ensure that we had accurate, ongoing coverage of the election. While the polls were open, we had reporters in the field interviewing Hamden residents about their reactions to the elections and how they felt about the process,” said HQNN student Zachary Carter ‘24, MS ‘25. “When the polls closed, we worked intently to update the vote count as it came in and then inform our readers who had won when all the votes had finally been tallied.”
Carter detailed the importance of fact-checking and accuracy when covering news, especially on topics like politics. His role for covering the municipal election was audience engagement, where he distributed their content and stories via social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to drive engagement.
“The most important aspect of handling social media sites was making sure that the information was accurate before posting it. We wanted to be quick, but we also wanted to be thorough in our reporting. Social media is what drives most of our readers to the site, so if the information is wrong, then people will begin to believe it,” said Carter.
Each week, students are assigned different roles to experience and understand each aspect of the newsroom. While Carter was assigned to social media with one of his peers, Zack Hochberg ‘24 was assigned as a reporter.
“It was my job to go to [Republican mayoral candidate] Crystal Dailey's election party and talk to the people there, as well as report election results back to the editors and social people at HQNN as they happened,” said Hochberg. “We stood out from other news stations in the area because we were the only ones who showed up to Dailey's party.”
Cat Murphy ‘24, MS ‘25, expressed the important role that communication played in their team dynamic. To ensure that all their content was on schedule, they had to keep in constant contact and work together.
“As always, communication and teamwork made the difference. Nothing would have worked if not for our constant contact with one another to keep our website and socials updated,” said Murphy.
HQNN students were a clear standout throughout the municipal elections. Not only did they gain incredible experience, but they outperformed professional competition.
“I believe we were the first to break the news that [Democratic mayoral candidate] Lauren Garrett had won,” said Carter.
Yanity hopes that this experience is eye-opening for students and helps them realize the importance of their work both in and out of the classroom.
“I hope they realize that when they are doing real, public-facing journalism, people count on them. Their colleagues count on them. Their audience counts on them. Public officials and those in power better count on them,” Yanity said. “This group did really well. The whole thing was a blast from my perspective. I imagine they might have the same opinion, but they really did well and I'm proud of them,” said Yanity.
HQNN is just one of the many ways that students are able to gain this real-world experience.
Whether through the student-run, award-winning television station Q30-TV, The Quinnipiac Chronicle newspaper, or other classes, clubs and organizations, students can learn all about what it is like to be a great journalist.
“Quinnipiac has really helped me solidify my path through the world of journalism. When I first came to Hamden, I was unsure if I had even picked the right major. But, my professors and the entire department of journalism made my life so much easier and helped me come to the realization that I had picked the right major and that I was on the right track, so I am very grateful to have them in my corner as I work toward graduating,” Carter said.
Murphy also expressed how imperative the program has been for fulfilling her dreams. Since coming to Quinnipiac, she has been able to pursue endless opportunities.
“I’ve wanted to be a journalist since the 2016 election. I was 12. It may not have been a presidential election, but being a part of coverage like this is exactly why I went into journalism. Quinnipiac has given me the opportunity to do the reporting that I always dreamed of doing but never imagined myself having the chance to do,” Murphy said.
HQNN student and editor-in-chief of The Quinnipiac Chronicle, Katie Langley ‘24, stated the importance of student reporters and how they are integral to the greater New Haven community.
“I'm super proud of the contributions that student reporters have made to campus. I think great reporting makes QU a more transparent place and opens us up to a larger community beyond QU and beyond Hamden,” said Langley.
Yanity explains that the coursework at Quinnipiac is set up in a way that prepares students for what is to come through their senior capstone course.
“I'm proud of these seniors, but I also expect this of them. We have great professors and a strong curriculum that allows them to get so much real-world experience and to produce meaningful work. It sounds silly, but it just makes me so happy to be able to brag about them,” Yanity said.
Learn more about HQNN’s election coverage and see more of their work at HQNN.org.
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