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Media the topic of NIU’s Oct. 9 Presidential Speaker Series event

October 4, 2012

Mark Stencel, National Public Radio’s managing editor for digital news, will discuss “Media Coverage and Presidential Elections” beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Northern Illinois University’s Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

Stencel is responsible for overseeing the journalism on NPR’s website and other digital platforms.

Since Stencel joined NPR in 2009, the network has been recognized as one of industry’s leading digital news services, honored with the 2011 Eppy award for best journalism website from Editor & Publisher, a 2010 National Press Foundation award for excellence in online journalism, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Peabody award, and the 2011 Webby and People’s Voice awards for news from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

“I think what is interesting about Mark’s background is that Mark is somebody who runs all the digital news media for NPR, and we’ve seen in the last several elections—and certainly in and since the last election cycle—an increase in [use of] the internet, an increase in blogging,” says Matt Streb, chair of the NIU Political Science Department.  “You had bloggers at the national conventions.  I mean, blogging is all over the place.”

With presidential and vice presidential debates taking place throughout the month of October, the 2012 campaign offers a unique opportunity to examine how news media covers the run up to the election.

Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel

“The old days of the newspaper where you waited to get the news in the morning is long gone, so I think it’s going to be interesting to hear Mark talk about how the media chooses to cover what they choose to cover and how these new technologies have changed the way they cover presidential campaigns and politics in general,” Streb adds.

“I think this is an especially timely topic; it’s a topic that should be of interest to our students.  We have several courses, including a course on the media in the Political Science Department that I believe has 90 students in it, so there really should be a strong student turnout,” Streb explains. “I think this is something with NPR co-sponsoring this series that there should be a lot of listeners to NPR that should also find this interesting since Mark is coming in.”

The format will be different from the first of NIU’s Presidential Speaker Series events, which had two speakers give relatively short presentations moderated by Streb.  Stencel’s presentation will consist of approximately 45 minutes of an overview of today’s media landscape as relates to presidential election coverage followed by a 45 minute question-and-answer period.

“I’m excited about this presentation because we will have plenty of time for the audience members to ask questions,” added Streb.

The third installment of the series will be led by Emery University’s Alan Abramowitz, who will deliver a presentation titled “Predicting the 2012 Presidential Election” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Holmes Student Center Sky Room.

Abramowitz is a popular expert on national politics, polling and elections. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate.

The Presidential Speaker Series concludes with an evening with former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, a Republican from west suburban Yorkville, and Bill Lipinski, a Democratic member of the U.S. House from 1983 to 2005, representing a Chicago district. Moderated by Professor Streb, the post-election talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Event Room of NIU-Naperville, with bus rides provided from DeKalb to NIU students who would like to attend.

The Presidential Speaker Series is sponsored by the NIU Office of the President, the Department of Political Science, the Division of University Relations and WNIJ.

For more information, call (815) 753-1011.