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Students' assignment culminates with election day results

Nov 6, 2018

For one group of students in Professor Tracey Eaton’s Advanced Reporting class, today is like their final exams. The process of reflection begins tomorrow as students evaluate and reflect on their performance with their project.

Students reporting at a political rally in St. Augustine

Students Lauren Schroeder and Austin Sanchez at the Andrew Gillum rally in St. Augustine on Sunday, Oct. 28.


For this class project, students were asked to cover the race for Florida’s next governor. The assignment was explicit: leave your bias at home.

“People can be so incredibly passionate about their candidate and they believe that the election will affect their livelihood, no matter the result,” said student Emma Anderson about her process toward becoming a journalist.

Unlike a typical college assignment, the students actually left the classroom. They have traveled across the state from large cities to small towns and interviewed people to share their stories about this election and its effects.

“There is only so much you can learn from a book or from a professor in the classroom. Students need real-world experience if they are to become professional journalists,” said Eaton.

In addition to the class requirements, some also occasionally contributed to the student newspaper “The Gargoyle” while out and about on assignment.

A recent Andrew Gillum rally in St. Augustine provided an opportunity to engage with a candidate and the voters without having to go too far away.

“I've been able to talk to people from across the political spectrum, which for me, has helped me understand why some political issues are so important,” said student Katie Garwood about covering the local rally.

The goal is that through this experience, the students will come away with the tools every good journalist needs: where to look for stories, how to find sources, what makes for a good interview and how to talk to people about sensitive topics.

Eaton hoped that “One day they’ll look back and see this experience as something that was meaningful and useful in their education.”

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