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‘Valley Vote ‘08’ prepares for live election coverage

October 30, 2008

“Valley Vote ‘08,” a channel 19 cable TV event being produced by a class of communication studies and theatre arts (CSTA) students, aims to provide live election coverage on Nov. 4. The focus will largely be on the county races in St. Croix and Pierce Counties and the state races (Senate District 10 and State Assembly District 28, 29 and 30), but there will be some coverage of the national races as well.

The coverage, produced by Mass Communication Practicum (CSTA 377), is seeking to fill an “informational niche” that is left open by the Twin Cities stations designated to cover our area, Jim Zimmerman, professor of CSTA and one of the instructors of the class, said.

“We are reliant on them [Minnesota media] for whatever information we get on election night, which is little to none,” Zimmerman said. “There is certainly no breakdown of how River Falls or Hudson voted on state issues.”

The coverage can be divided into four major categories: reporting the results, analyzing the results, interviewing the candidates involved in the races and pre-packaged videos that cover various human interest aspects of the election.

The director of the coverage and one of the students in the class, Bradley Brookins, said that he is satisfied with the candidates that they were able to book for the show. The two confirmed candidates are Alison Page (10th Senate District) and Sarah Bruch (30th Assembly District).

“We’ve had some trouble getting people to commit to [interviews], and that could be any number of reasons,” Brookins said. “We’re a small college. Maybe they don’t take us seriously, but we are bringing in some of the College Democrats and Republicans.”

In addition to candidates Page and Bruch, there will be possible phone interviews with Kitty Rhoades (30th Assembly District) and Chris Buckel (29th Assembly District). The guests will be interviewed by the hosts of “Focus on U,” Andrew Murphy and Mallory Macal.

Don Richards, the mayor of River Falls, will help analyze the voting results, along with Mark Kinders, UWRF public affairs director, and Melissa Murphy, a student in the class.

“It’s the only ringside seat there is for things that affect [students] in River Falls,” Zimmerman said. “If they want to know whether Sheila Harsdorf or Alison Page won that Senate election, which is their direct representation to the state of Wisconsin that determines what the budgets for their education are, and indirectly what their tuition and fees are, it’s a ringside seat.”

The class responsible for the show had what Brookins said is a “crash course in politics.”  At the start, they knew nothing about the candidates. He also notices that the local races are neglected by other students as well.

“You could ask the average college student, “Who are you going to vote for?” And they’re going to say Obama or McCain,” Brookins said. “[If asked] But what about the other races in Wisconsin? [They ask] What other races?”

The coverage, which will be focusing on the other races, begins at 8:30 p.m. after the polls close and ends when all of the votes have been counted. It can be seen on cable channel 19 or steaming live at Valley Vote ‘08’s Web site http://www.uwrf.edu/election08/CoverageArea.html.