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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Accomplished journalists visit Carleton

<ir="ltr">On Monday, Sept. 19, a panel, entitled “Sense and Nonsense: Clinton, Trump, and the Media in 2016,” brought together a group of prominent journalists to talk about the election and the media’s role in it. Anna Palmer of Politico, James Hohmann of the Washington Post, and Jonathan Martin of the New York Times gathered in the Weitz Common Space to discuss the current election, analyze the role of media in politics and answer questions from the audience. John Harris, ’85 and founder of Politico, moderated. Harris also initiated the panel; during a mid-summer conversation with Tommy Bonner, Vice President for External Relations, Harris offered to bring together a group of top-tier journalists to talk to students about the election.

According to Joe Hargis, Associate Vice President for External Relations and Director of College Communications, who acted as the school’s point-man on the event, Harris “did all the work. He had the idea. He put it together.” Barbara Allen, political science Professor and host of the event, concurred, saying she only “jumped into the [planning] process mid-stream to late in the game.”

From Hargis’s perspective, this event was wholly unusual. He explained that it came together rather quickly from the school’s perspective, following more the frenetic speed of top-level journalists than the pace of an educational institution. In addition, Hargis noted that the entire panel featured speakers of a caliber not generally brought to campus. The three journalists on the panel came largely from Harris’s network, and Hargis admitted that Harris was principally responsible for their attendance. Because the three journalists and Harris are well-known, the event drew widespread interest not just from the student population, but from the Northfield community. In fact, there appeared to be an equal number of students and community members present, a divergence from other campus events in which students typically outnumber Northfield residents. Ultimately, however, Hargis said that the panel remained an event for students.

“It’s always nice for the college to be able to include community members in programming. I think that helps our community relations. But this was mostly a chance for the campus to hear something different, relevant,” Hargis said. “It was an educational opportunity.” To “make sure the campus knew about it, particularly the students,” Hargis said External Relations expanded the nature of their pre-event advertising. In addition to the standard news release and social media push, Hargis sent an all-campus email before the event.

Hargis also recognized that this event, and events like it, help the image of the school, although he made sure to emphasize that this was not the primary intent in hosting the panel. Bringing such prominent figures to campus “can showcase the college as being a place of intellectual vibrancy and that we really do attract a range of interesting, thoughtful speakers,” he said, but noted that this external exposure is never the driving goal. Given the success of this panel, both Allen and Hargis said they were interested in leveraging the college’s impressive and varied alumni.

The college itself may not have many connections with high-level individuals, but plenty of alumni do. Both Allen and Hargis seemed open to and enthused by the idea of engaging with more alumni, whether through all-campus events or Skype discussions in class.

The panel event was recorded and can be viewed on Carleton’s website.

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