Elon News Network to present live election special on Nov. 8
Fifty-six student media members are collaborating to provide real-time storylines, results and insights for the presidential, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.
In preparation for its first election special, Elon News Network has planned an expansive live telecast for Tuesday, Nov. 8. The merged student news organization of The Pendulum and Elon Local News, which converged newsrooms this semester, will have reporters in the field covering the presidential, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.
The “Election Center” telecast, available live on channel 5 on campus and through Facebook Live at Elon News Network, will begin at 8 p.m. In addition to live look-ins at various campaign headquarters, the election special will feature in-studio guests from the College Democrats, College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty and the Iowa Caucus Winter Term program.
In total, 56 students have collaborated on the show’s coverage, led by Elizabeth Bilka ’18, executive producer of “Election Center.” Caroline Hartshorn ’18 and Brooke Wivagg ’18, producers, and Jacob LaPlante ’17, director of video and broadcast production, have also played key roles in developing and scripting the telecast. Paul LeBlanc ’18 will anchor the coverage.
ENN’s field reporters and their election night assignments are as follows:
Donald Trump headquarters – Paige Pauroso ’17 and K McKay ’17
Hillary Clinton headquarters – Kailey Tracy ’17 and Emmanuel Morgan ’19
Pat McCrory – Andrew Feather ’17 and Meg Malone ’20
Roy Cooper – Avik Bhargave ’19 and Bryan Anderson ’18
U.S. Senate race
Richard Burr – Jackie Pascale ’18 and Jasmine Hager ’18
Deborah Ross – Maya Eaglin ’19 and Elizabeth Kirkhorn ’19
Unlike the major news networks, LaPlante explains ENN’s election coverage is uniquely tailored to the Elon community.
"The main focus of the broadcast will be to serve the Elon audience – we're not NBC and we're not CNN. We're focusing on providing information to the average college student,” he said. “We're putting together a project that not many collegiate news programs get to take part in – four (or more) hours of live coverage, on election night, from across the country. The experience has been – and will be – second to none."
To accomplish a four-hour show, the student news organization began planning for election night back in April. LaPlante credits both the buy-in of the ENN staff members as well as the School of Communication for making the telecast a reality.
“This project simply couldn't be done without the unimaginable amount of teamwork that we've all put forward,” said LaPlante, also praising the school’s investment in student media and its newly renovated studios. “I'm excited – it's a night we all will never forget, regardless of the outcome of the election.”
ENN Executive Director Tommy Hamzik '17 seconded LaPlante’s sentiments, and singled out both Bilka and LaPlante for their guidance and leadership leading up to election night. For Bilka, the beginning of her election coverage dates back nearly a year, to the Iowa caucuses held last winter. The junior participated in Associate Professor Rich Landesberg’s “The Trail Starts Here: The Iowa Caucuses” class, a 10-day program where students reported on the primary process on site.
“Nov. 8 seemed so far away back then and it is amazing to see how much has changed since the beginning of the year,” she said.
Despite the months of planning and preparation, Bilka expects – and looks forward to – the unexpected nature of election night. “The most interesting part about this show is that no matter how much you plan ahead, you don't know what is going to happen on Nov. 8,” she said. “The fact that I have no idea who is going to win in any of these races until they are called is incredibly exhilarating.”