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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 29, 2008

Students urge students to vote smart with

A Web journalism class has launched to encourage fellow University of Iowa students to vote -- and to make informed decisions at the polls.

The site is a nonpartisan voter guide to the 2008 presidential and 2nd Congressional District races. With the slogan "Get the Scoop, Then Vote Nov. 4," provides basic information on the candidates, issues and voting process. It also addresses how the election could impact tuition, the job market, the economy and the environment, among other topics.

The project's mission is twofold: service and learning.

"We hope the student-produced videos, articles and photography on our site will offer a young-voter insight into this election," said Erin Tiesman, a second-year student in the Masters in Professional Journalism program and managing editor of

Reaching young voters is important, considering that a national UI Hawkeye Poll released Monday showed less than 40 percent of voters under age 35 follow the election closely. The poll also confirmed that the Web is the No. 1 political news source for young voters; 39 percent say it's their primary source.

"Our goal is to inform and provide confidence to UI voters on Nov. 4, and clearly a Web site is a good way to reach younger voters," Tiesman said. "We take our mission seriously. They will be voting to change the future."

Web proficiency is a must for modern-day journalists, and students in the course are honing a host of Web journalism skills, from reporting, writing and editing stories for the Internet to producing multimedia packages and posting content.

"With a presidential election on the horizon it seemed natural to use this relevant topic as an opportunity for students to do serious reporting while learning to produce a Web site," said instructor Greg Johnson. "I hope they'll look back on this as a valuable step in their professional development."

The online journalism course traditionally ties current events to class projects. In the fall 2007 semester, a class developed a site called "Caucus on the Cob" which provided similar information prior to the Iowa Caucuses.

Online Journalism is offered to graduate and undergraduate journalism students through the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For more information on the journalism school visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sonia Gunderson,,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,