Beam Me Down
Mason journalism students join C-SPAN teleconference class
This spring, Mason journalism students had the chance to participate in two-way, televised classes with prominent guest speakers as part of a distance learning class developed and taught by Steve Scully, senior executive producer at C-SPAN. The press conference-style events featured such notables as former White House chief of staff Mark McLarty, former New York governor Mario Cuomo, former White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, NBC anchor Brian Williams, and Hardball anchor and NBC/MSNBC reporter Chris Matthews.
Steve Klein, a visiting instructor in Mason’s Communication Department, was able to coordinate most of the events to coincide with his Communication 361 course, Online Journalism. Klein’s students used GMU-TV’s telecourse studio in Innovation Hall, which is equipped with a podium, seats with microphones, and several television monitors. Students were able to ask questions and get immediate feedback from the guest speaker and students from the University of Denver and Pace University in New York, who also participated in the class. Susan Kehoe, DA Community College Education ’00, director of GMU-TV, and Rich Eggleton, MA Telecommunications ’01, a GMU-TV senior producer and director, helped Klein with Mason’s end of the teleconference.
“We are plugged into something that is a breakthrough program, and Mason is at the forefront,” says Klein, who also coordinates Mason’s minor in electronic journalism.
Along with using the teleconferenced events, Klein, a 35-year veteran of the journalism trade, tapped into his own extensive list of in-the-flesh speakers for his course. Klein, who has taught journalism for 16 years, 4 of them at Mason, says he always chuckles when his students are excited to see a “real journalist” come to class. “To them, I’m just a professor. They want to hear from people who are out in the field every day.”
According to Klein, networking is one of the best tools for getting speakers into his classroom. “I have two degrees of separation; if I don’t know a person, I know someone who does,” he says. “I always tell my students to ‘keep people with you,’ and that it’s natural to network in this business.”
Senior communication major Evan Frank, a student in Klein’s Online Journalism course, is enthusiastic about the teleconferenced events. “I don’t know of any other opportunities for Mason students, or college students in general, to interview national figures like Chris Matthews and Mario Cuomo. The experience is unique and great practice for aspiring reporters.”