Special Report: Students Cover Media at Political Debates



TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 20, 2010) - Get an inside look at what and how the pundits, political reporters and other media are doing and saying about The Debates at USF. The School of Mass Communications graduate multimedia journalism class, taught by Associate Professor Ken Killebrew, is turning the cameras and notebooks on the professionals, providing on-going “coverage of the coverage.”


It’s expected a large contingent of media, both local and national, will be on hand at the University of South Florida for the two days of debates featuring a U.S. Senate debate and some sparring by candidates in the Florida governor’s race. The Senate debate is at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 24; the Gubernatorial debate is at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25.


Six graduate journalism students will provide the deep dive into the coverage through interactive blogging, slideshows, video and engaging stories around the sights and sounds. Meet the team below.


Complete Coverage:


Monday, Oct. 25, 2010: Protesters Oppose New Immigration Laws. Before the Florida Gubernatorial Debate on CNN, protesters opposed to any proposed new immigration laws similar to Arizona gathered outside the USF Marshall Student Center.


Monday, Oct. 25, 2010: The Spin Zone: What Is It? This video explores the concept of the “spin zone” in political campaigns and how it was used for the political debates at USF.


Monday, Oct. 25, 2010: Media Can Do Better Telling Campaign Story. USF students watching the political debates on campus ask the media to look at the positive, not just negative.


Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010: Photo Gallery on the Media. View the slideshow about media happens at the U.S. Senate debate.


Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010: Snitker Snickers at Lack of Media Coverage. The Libertarian candidate has been excluded from many mainstream media debates.


Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010: Student Turnout Low for Sunday Morning Debate. The debate for U.S. Senate receives overall good grades, calls for more traditional format.

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010: Media Turns Out for U.S. Senate Debate. Coverage of live event at the Tampa campus of USF is a challenge that results in some improvisations.


Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010: Blogging The Debates. USF graduate journalism student Ken Rosenberg blogs about the media coverage of the political debates at USF.


Friday, Oct. 22, 2010: CNN Through the Lens. CNN sets up shop at the University of South Florida for the political debates. View the photo gallery.


Student Bios: 


Tyler Crane: Tyler is a graduate student in the capstone Advanced Multimedia Journalism Course at the University of South Florida. Tyler completed his bachelor’s degree in broadcast news at USF in the Spring of 2007. Currently, Tyler is a graduate assistant for Florida Focus. In this course, undergraduate students are required to complete a 3-minute newsbreak that is aired on WUSF Channel-16 every weekday during the semester. He is also the Technical Director of the USF student-run radio station, Bulls Radio. Tyler’s work has been published in a variety of different media outlets including The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com, ESPNU and UWire.


Samira Obeid: Samira is a graduate student in the University of South Florida’s  School of Mass Communications. Specializing in Multimedia Journalism, she is currently pursuing her second master’s degree while working part-time at the USF Office of International Affairs. Moving to the United States in 2007 to study photojournalism, Sam spent most of her formative years in India fine-tuning her skills as an advertising copywriter. After graduation, she plans to balance freelance photojournalism with full-time advertising and hopes to someday join the United Nations.



Kenneth Rosenberg: Ken is an enthusiast about media and culture. Having graduated from the University of South Florida’s Department of Communication in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational and Interpersonal communication, he leapt across the hall of the CIS building to see how these theories work on a larger scale and, most importantly, in practice—something this political event should reveal in detail.




Chris Sharp: Chris is in his last year of his Multimedia Masters degree at University of South Florida. He has a bachelor’s degree in Management and Business from James Madison University in Virginia. He currently works as a Marketing & Communications Coordinator for USF’s Human Resources department, where he specializes in writing communications for the USF faculty and staff community. Chris is also a freelance prep sports correspondent for the Tampa Tribune and TBO.com. Chris has experience as a PA Announcer in the Arena Football League and has worked in sports operations for the Washington Wizards and Washington Nationals prior to relocating to the Tampa area.


Keli Sipperley: Keli is a graduate student in the capstone Advanced Multimedia Journalism course at the University of South Florida. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State University. As a journalist, she pursues human interest stories, and has a passion for writing about everyday people who are doing great things for their communities. She is a copy editor and contributing reporter for The Tampa Tribune. A longtime member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, her short stories have appeared in national children’s magazines. Keli also writes book reviews for the Tribune.


Rebecca Sitten: Rebecca is from St. Augustine, Fla. and is a second-year graduate student studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of South Florida. With a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from USF, her study focus has been print journalism and the digital future of the print industry. As a student in the capstone Advanced Multimedia Journalism course, she has had a chance to gain pragmatic knowledge to complement the theoretical and research foundations laid in other Mass Communications courses. In the future, Rebecca plans to apply these practical skills as a journalist for an online news organization, eventually obtain a Ph.D. and teach at the university level.



Kenneth C. Killebrew: Ken Killebrew is an Associate Professor in the School of Mass Communications at the University of South Florida. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Tennessee in Communications. Killebrew has been writing professionally for more than 25 years, beginning his career as a newspaper reporter, working three years for the Bloomington, IL Daily Pantagraph.  From there, he moved into broadcasting.  During his 10 years of reporting for television, Killebrew won four awards, including two awards for best investigative reporting, one for best spot news reporting and a second place finish for best reporter in the state of Illinois. Killebrew also served as a Public Affairs Officer in the United States Naval Reserve and later oversaw and coordinated a variety of media relations activities and employee publications for two major corporations, while acting as corporate spokesperson for both. Before joining the University of South Florida, Ken was a full time Instructor at Bradley University for four years.