Sam Houston State University is hosting some of the biggest names in media this semester as part of a virtually-streamed independent study course called Dateline: Democracy.
On Oct. 6, Dateline: Democracy will feature longtime television journalist and “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl. This event and all upcoming Dateline: Democracy sessions will be streamed on the College of Arts & Media Facebook page, then uploaded to their YouTube account.
College of Arts & Media Administrative Coordinator Jackie Swan described what viewers can gain from watching the livestreams.
“A lot of people will tune into whatever news channel to watch, and they see the professional side of the reporters,” Swan said. “This is kind of an opportunity to see the reporters speaking off set and give some detail on what goes down behind the scenes.”
Included in the lineup are past official White House photographer David Hume Kennerly, CBS newswoman Lesley Stahl, ABC anchor and former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, NBC journalist and host Andrea Mitchell and USA Today Bureau Chief Susan Page.
These guests are brought to SHSU by mass communication Philip G. Warner Endowed Chair Peter Roussel, who has a long career in PR making connections. Originally working as a press secretary for George H. W. Bush, he soon went to work at the White House as Deputy Press Secretary and Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan.
It was CAM Dean Ronald Shields who approached Roussel with the idea of an independent study class during a presidential election year.
“I thought it was an excellent idea, and certainly topical, from a timing standpoint,” Roussel said. “Needless to say, this is a different kind of presidential campaign than we’ve normally seen, but, you know, a lot of the things about it are still the same.”
Roussel thought members of the media could provide a unique outlook for this subject matter.
“It’s about getting their perspectives and the students having access to them to ask questions,” Roussel said. “I thought, ‘well, who am I thinking about?’ Of course, my mind went back to my days as a presidential spokesman there at the White House and virtually, many of those people I worked with are still at it covering today’s campaign.”
Each session is hosted by Roussel and political science professor Mike Yawn, with students from the independent study course contributing to the interview and asking their own questions to the guests.
“It’s nothing new in terms of the technical way we’re doing this,” Roussel said. “But maybe what we’re doing is kind of developing, at least during this pandemic, a formula for arts related and communications related events that engage students with professionals in the field in which they’re interested, and do it in a way where they can ask questions.”
Each event will be livestreamed from the College of Arts & Media Facebook page.