Journalists Discuss Media and Politics in the 2008 Election

On November 15, less than two weeks after the election, the 2008 John Fisher Zeidman Colloquium on Politics and the Press, offered an opportunity to join veteran reporters from national news organizations for a post-election debriefing on media coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Journalists Discuss Media and Politics in the 2008 ElectionThe panel included Garrett Graff, editor of the Washingtonian and founding editor of “Fishbowl D.C.” on; Ruth Marcus, a Washington Post editorial writer and columnist specializing in politics, campaign finance, and the federal budget and taxes; Mark Shields, a nationally syndicated columnist and political analyst for “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS; and Jeff Zeleny, a political reporter who covered Barack Obama on the campaign trail for The New York Times. Panel moderator was Jay Hamilton, PPS professor and director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.

The revolutionary nature of this past campaign, including the sheer length of the public process and the interest level of a broad spectrum of the public, provided opportunity for the election to be covered by all forms of media, in as many different ways as possible. This gave the panel much to evaluate in terms of the contributions, failings and limitations  of many sources of political information available—“digital” and “mainstream.” The panel also discussed the media strategies approaches adopted by the political parties.

Since 1984, the Zeidman Colloquium has brought prominent journalists and political analysts to Duke, including Ted Koppel, Gwen Ifill, Charlie Rose, David Brooks, David Gergen, and Judy Woodruff, to discuss the relationship between media and politics. The annual colloquium was established by Philip and Nancy Zeidman in memory of their son, John Fisher Zeidman, a Duke student who died in 1982 after contracting viral encephalitis while studying in China. The Zeidman Colloquium celebrates John’s passion for examining the interaction of politics and the press.

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