COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Sept. 26) – Merrill College students are getting a unique perspective on the 2016 presidential election this fall – and the coverage of it by the three major broadcast networks.

Thanks to a new Merrill College class by Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag, students enrolled in “Election 2016 – Managing a Broadcast” are taking a serious look at just how NBC, CBS and ABC are covering the candidates and the issues.

Bettag said, “This course will produce play-by-play commentary of this network competition during the climactic stretch of the campaign. The goal is to understand what makes great coverage and a compelling broadcast.”

Bettag told Merrill journalist Simone Thomas his broadcast and multimedia students will get practical experience in all aspects of journalism:

Analyzing How the Networks Inform Voters

Bettag’s students have a simple assignment: watch every weekday evening news broadcast and contrast the coverage. They will be asked to examine the reporting, writing, ethical decisions, statistics and graphic presentation, studio presentation, and utilization of supporting web materials.

And they’ll be blogging about it all on their new “Election Watch” website – hosted by Merrill College’s Capital News Service. After the election, the students will produce a final site to address “lessons learned.”


Student Becca King ’17 says she was excited about the class last spring when it was first proposed, adding it was a “perfect fit” given she’s a journalism and government double major. “I really think this blog is going to be fantastic. Tom is working with us to develop and perfect our writing skills, which is something some broadcast majors lose track of in the midst of turning day-turns (broadcast news stories). I can’t wait to have a product I, and the rest of our team, are proud to show off.”

Students in the class also have a group of 27 professional journalists to talk to – to get their assessment of what is best journalistic practice. The experts include Candy Crowley, Jeff Greenfield, Connie Chung and David Folkenflick.

Bettag said, “I hope this will help our students look at election coverage more critically. I hope those covering the election knows someone is watching.”