School of Arts and Sciences
Last Friday, Marin Porges, A82, came back to the hill to discuss news coverage of the 2012 election with students. Porges has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and is currently a senior producer of news standards and practices at NBC News and previously worked at ABC News. She was the 2012 recipient of the Tufts P.T. Barnum Award for Excellence in Entertainment.
Porges began her discussion by describing her experience in journalism and her current role as senior producer of news standards and practices. She specifically detailed how her role took a part in the 2012 election: for the first time in her career, Porges took a seat at the “Decision Desk,” an secluded area where only senior producers and political science statisticians deal with data coming in from each state. Her job as senior producer was to approve the conclusions the statisticians came to from the data for reporting, a job she described as scary. Throughout her discussion, Porges stressed that it’s “better to be right than first,” even though NBC was the first network to call Obama’s victory on election night at 11:12pm.
Porges also made attendees aware of journalistic and ethical standards and processes. For example, she discussed how NBC makes sure to include the context of any piece of news they report that was given to them by any political party or candidate in order to have complete control of the messages they are sending to their audience. This, Porges stressed, keeps audiences informed and trusting the network since, ”once our viewers don’t trust us, we’ve lost it all.”
Porges also taught her audience that every news organization uses the same exit polls. Since these news organizations don’t have enough money to each have an exit poll, they pool their resources. She also discussed that a special group at NBC reports and checks voting irregularities. She went into detail about the things that complicate election coverage like early voting. By election night, 50%+ of the battle ground states will have already voted so the exit polls aren’t as reliable as they used to be. In order to solve this problem, news stations have resorted to new tactics like calling voters in battle ground states to add to their exit poll data.
Another complication for Porges and her team is social media. Today her journalists have to be trained on everything: camera work, editing, writing, and this has made their work “a lot easier and a lot harder.” In the past, journalists could get help from experts on their team, but today, there is no time to fully train journalists one-on-one on the skills they must know. Also, on election night, journalists are given sensitive material, which they must not disseminate through their social media channels prior to the news being reported as stated by NBC policy. Yet during this election, NBC dealt with two instances of people on their team tweeting information before it was reported. Porges advised students to be careful of their social media presence claiming that, “It’ll come back to haunt you,” and asking them to check the social media policies of the news organization they work for and to make sure students don’t send anything on email that they wouldn’t want to be public.
The discussion ended with a Q&A session and the chance for students to meet and network with Porges.
On October 24th, Tufts Dining and the Tufts Office of Sustainability teamed up to present “The Story of Bananas” at Dewick Dining Hall. The event focused on educating students on their favorite dining hall item—from farm to plate to compost heap—and was modeled after Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff.” Students were treated to a chocolate dipping bar and five stations that detailed the journey bananas go through before and after they get to our dining centers. If students visited each station, they were entered in a raffle to win a pizza and cupcake party along with other banana-themed prizes.
On Wednesday, April 4 panelists Simon Rosenberg, Dean Glaser, Peter Levine, Pam Wilmot, and Leslie Ogden came together to offer insights and information on new voting restrictions, campaign rules, electoral college reform, and Senate inequality.
The Distinguished Writer’s Series at Tufts brings world-renowned authors to the university to share insight into their works and experiences as writers. On Friday, March 30, Gary Shteyngart visited Tufts as part of this series.
Shteyngart, who teaches writing at Columbia University and Princeton University, is the author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Absurdistan (2006), and Super Sad True Love Story (2010). His writing has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Slate. He is the winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award.
Charles Sennott is a “reluctant entrepreneur” who took his friend’s advice to “go out and change the world.” On Monday, March 26, he shared his story of co-founding GlobalPost at the Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lecture.
This Lecture Series brings guests to Tufts to share their journeys as entrepreneurial leaders. Alan’s sons, Jacob A08, and Caleb A11, describe their father as “an entrepreneur who embraced change” and hope that the Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lectures inspire students and alumni to explore the world of entrepreneurship.
On Mar. 8, the Lyon & Bendheim Alumni Lecture series hosted Robert Sterne, E73, AG75, director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, one of the leading patent attorneys in the United States in patent reexamination and concurrent patent litigation.
The Lyon & Bendheim Alumni Lecture series was established by JB Lyon, A85, and Tom Bendheim, A85, and chooses lectures that are leaders in their respective fields and have repeatedly proven themselves with tremendous achievements at the highest levels. The series mission is to bring prominent and successful alumni to campus to share their wisdom and experience with students.
Since its founding in 1998, the Tufts Institute of Environment (TIE) has created many opportunities to promote environmental issues. The TIE Talks are a lecture series designed to be a causal, comfortable setting for faculty, staff, students and alumni to learn and share.
On Mar. 7, speaker Mary Davis, assistant professor in the department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, will present on her research involving the relationship between economics and public health. When asked about her inspiration for this connection, Davis responded:
“I started working on a large epidemiologic study at Harvard investigating the connection between exposure to diesel exhaust and lung cancer. Since cancer takes a long time to develop, we needed to understand what exposures looked like in the past before environmental monitoring data were available. So I started looking into filling in the gaps with economic data, with the hypothesis that greater levels of economic activity generate air pollution.”
The theme of this semesters TIE Talks is Environmental Justice. Davis offered her own perspective on this semesters theme:
“For me, the term environmental justice broadly encompasses any group that is disproportionately exposed to environmental harm, especially those without the political clout to effect change.”
Moreover, the TIE Talks create another arena for environment-related discussion. Davis commented on the significance of the TIE Talks:
“I think that the TIE Talks provide an excellent opportunity to bring visibility to environmental issues on campus.”
TIE was started as a result of a growing need for more environmental programs and activities at Tufts. Since then, it has supported numerous research projects and events.Today, TIE continues to build more awareness and attention for environmental research, teaching and leadership.
Mary Davis’ lecture will be held Wednesday Mar. 7, 4:30 to 6:30pm, TIE Conference Room, Miller Hall.