CJA directors gain expert tips for covering politics

By: Gabriella Mikiewicz, Associate Board director

As the presidential primary season heats up, the complicated field of politics can be a confusing maze for journalists to tackle. Loyola University Chicago offered students, journalists, and faculty the opportunity to hear from some of the experts on political journalism, research, advertising, and investigating the truth behind the speeches.

Tahera Rahman (L) of Radio Islam and other panelists discuss political journalism issues; such as race, immigration and political advertising; at the “Truth, Lies and Election 2016” forum on Feb. 12. Photo credit: Gabriella Mikiewicz

The forum, titled “Truth, Lies and Election 2016” was held on Friday, Feb. 12 at Loyola’s downtown Chicago Water Tower Campus, and was sponsored by the American Press Institute and Loyola’s School of Communication. Allen Rafalson, president of the Chicago Journalists Association, and Associate Board director Gabriella Mikiewicz attended. More than eighty other people, a mixture of students and faculty members, attended the presentations on resources available to journalists reporting political news, race and immigration issues, and political advertising.

In a time of political turmoil, Jane Elizabeth of the American Press Institute said the media plays a key role in educating the public, and that “journalism, at its best, can really help inform and cause a society to react appropriately when they have the right facts. It’s giving citizens the information that they need to live in a democracy.”

Prominent representatives from fact-checking websites included Greg Borowski from Politifact Wisconsin, Brittany Clingen from Ballotpedia and Madeleine Doubek from Reboot Illinois. Other speakers included Alden Loury, a senior policy analyst at the Better Government Association, Natalie Moore, a reporter from WBEZ, Tahera Rahman from Radio Islam, Alex Hernandez from Extra News and Ann Liston from AL Media. Panelists and audience members were able to interact with each other and others using the twitter hashtag #truthpol16.

The workshop was the second of three being held around the country. The next will be held at Louisiana State University next month. Once all three forums have been completed, an informational kit compiling the materials presented from all of the panelists will be made available to everyone who attended.

“I truly had no idea before this event how many resources were available for students, journalists, or other citizens to become informed about politics,” Mikiewicz said. “There are people working so hard out there to pay attention to our leaders, fact-check, investigate, and then disseminate information in a comprehensible way. This event was very educational and as a student journalist, I feel a lot more comfortable navigating my way through this presidential election period.”

*This story was updated on Feb. 29, 2016 to correct the number of attendees.