Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Column writers tackle the Obama-McCain debate

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The students in the Column Writing class at CSU, Sacramento gave out more than a few groans during the debate between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, but dutifully pounded out their 600-word columns with all writers making their deadline - about 50 minutes after moderator Tom Brokaw declared that the debate was over.

A few extra groans came out when technical problems nearly made several students miss their deadlines.

But they made it. And the results can be read by clicking on the links to the right of this column.

Barrack Obama and John McCain
Obama and McCain

It was the first real on-deadline assignment for the group. Other columns have been done with days of lead time, though a quick look at tonight's columns convinces me that many of these students are as good - in some cases better - when pushed with a tight deadline.

The general consensus of the columns?

Well, of the columns I sampled (with the balance to be read Wednesday and Thursday), more than a few writers objected to the constant finger-pointing that did seem to mar the flow of the debate. Even when confronted with a yes-no question, both candidates filled the air with speeches.

Here's a short video of the class watching Round 2 of the presidential debates.

Column writing students to post analysis columns at end of tonight's debate

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Tonight's column writing class at CSU, Sacramento will join the ranks of pundits across the world by watching the Obama-McCain debate live - and then posting their columns immediately after the debate is over.

Watch out Fox News, J-131 is moving on up.

The opportunity popped up when our guest speaker for the evening, Dan Weintraub of The Sacramento Bee, had to bow out at the last moment. He will be coming in a few weeks to talk about political reporting and how he survives in this brave new world of almost-instant analysis.

No doubt the students will have lots of questions about how he does what I am asking them to do tonight.

Dan Weintraub
Dan Weintraub

Up until now, the students in the class have been able to write much more leisurely, with days of lead time.

Tonight, the deadline will be upon them with all columns to be filed no later than one hour after the debate is completed.

I supposed I could start the class off like the announcers at a racetrack:

Writers: Start your computers.

Barrack Obama and John McCain
Tonight's debaters