The Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce Hosts the Nation's Best and Brightest Young Journalists at the Second Annual Presidency and the Press: A Conference for High School Media

William Douglas, White House Correspondent for the McClatchy newspaper group May 15, 2007

White House Insiders and First in the Nation Primary Reporters to Share Knowledge and Insight During Week of Events from Saturday, June 23 to Friday, June 29

RINDGE, NH - More than 30 young journalists from across the country will spend a week in New Hampshire immersed in the dynamics of presidential politics beginning on Saturday, June 23. A host of state and national experts will participate in the second annual The Presidency and the Press: A Conference for High School Media sponsored by The Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce College.

Some of the country's most engaged youth will learn about presidential politics, the media's role in election coverage and the relationship between candidates and the press. During a week of intense training and hands-on practice, student journalists will work alongside seasoned political reporters who have covered the First in the Nation Primary and past presidential elections as well as White House insiders and campaign strategists.

Participants include Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; former White House photographer David Valdez; William Douglas, White House correspondent for McClatchy newspapers such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Miami Herald; and Curt Smith, former presidential speechwriter and presidential rhetoric scholar at the University of Rochester.

Veteran New Hampshire journalists who will share their knowledge and decades of experience covering the First in the Nation Primary include David Tirrell-Wysocki, broadcast editor and general assignment reporter for the Associated Press and Executive Director of the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication; Scott Spradling, political reporter for WMUR-TV; Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader; James Pindell political reporter and blogger for the Boston Globe.

Republican strategist and advisor for the Romney for president campaign Tom Rath and New Hampshire director for the Obama for President campaign Mike Rodriguez will also participate. Judy Reardon, former staffer for Governor Jeanne Shaheen and political strategist for the Kerry campaign and Mike Dennehy, Republican strategist and John McCain's national political director will also lend their expertise.

The program runs from Saturday, June 23 through Friday, June 29 at the Fitzwater Center on Franklin Pierce College's Rindge campus and includes trips to the college's Manchester campus, the State House, WMUR-TV and the Union Leader newsrooms.

The Presidency and the Press is designed to prepare and immerse young people in the 2008 presidential election. Throughout the week, students will conduct interviews, write stories and produce news packages - all involving state and national media and political representatives.

"An important part of our mission involves educating leaders of conscience in public communication," said Dr. George J. Hagerty, president of Franklin Pierce College. "The young people participating in this conference represent the best and brightest of the next generation of journalists. The Presidency and the Press represents our commitment to engage candidates and the electorate in the robust and open debate that is essential to healthy a democracy."

New Hampshire students from Barrington, Concord, Hooksett, Manchester, Merrimack, Milton, Rindge and Rochester will participate in the conference along with students from: Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

"The goal of this conference is to thoroughly train and engage these students in the presidential election process so that when they return to their high schools, they will inform and motivate their peers to get involved and participate in the democratic process," said Dr. Kristen Nevious, Director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication. "We expect this experience will spill over into their college years and beyond."

Also participating will be eight students and a faculty member from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Franklin Pierce University
and Wartburg College have collaborated to take advantage of both states' first-in-the-nation status. The two colleges are participating in student and faculty exchanges, a speaker series and joint programming related to 2008 presidential election.

Highlights of the week include a briefing Monday, June 25th on Primary Strategy from the Media and Campaign Perspectives with Joseph McQuaid from the Union Leader, Jeff Barlett, general manager of WMUR-TV, Mike Dennehy and Judy Reardon. That same day, students will also visit various Presidential campaign headquarters in Manchester. On Tuesday, June 26th, the students are scheduled to meet with Governor John Lynch on the Granite State's role in presidential politics. Later that afternoon, Curt Smith speaks to the students on campaign rhetoric and how to decipher factual stories from fiction on the campaign trail. On Wednesday, June 27th, Marlin Fitzwater will speak to the group on the inside of the White House Briefing Room.

Other highlights will include a master class in photojournalism conducted by David Valdez and a session on political cartooning with Lori Fischer, curator of the New Hampshire Political Library.

To ensure that students receive a comprehensive view from the Granite State, Franklin Pierce University is partnering with several key organizations for the conference. They include the Nackey S. Loeb School for Communications and the New Hampshire Political Library.