West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism students will be on the front lines of the November 2004 local and presidential elections.

Adjunct Professor Gregg Ramshaw is asking participants in his graduate seminar on the media and elections to track the campaigns of some local candidates and evaluate how local media cover those candidates.

“The goal is to have students assess the candidate’s positions on a range of issues and see how effectively they are conveyed to the media. Then we’ll assess how the media perform their roles in covering the candidates,”said Ramshaw.”We’ll also be looking at how the national media cover the Presidential election campaign this fall, starting with the Republican Convention.”

Ramshaw recently retired after 21 years as a producer of PBS ’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He was coordinating producer of the program’s 2000 convention coverage and was the producer for the skybox anchor studio at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. He has also produced a number of political and Congressional television broadcasts during his 31 years in Washington.

“This course is an example of democracy in action with students learning first-hand about campaign coverage during an exciting election year,”said SOJ Acting Dean Maryanne Reed.”The students will gain hands-on reporting and writing skills and a better understanding of the role of journalism in the political process.”

The media have been a major source of public information and persuasion during election times, Ramshaw added. The relationship between the candidates and the media is symbioticthey need each other to properly perform their roles in a democracy.

Ramshaw said he hopes by the end of the class, his students will have a better understanding of how the media and the candidates interact. He said he also hopes his students will be informed voters themselves when they go to the polls in November.