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Adjunct Instructor Sandra Svoboda Takes to the Field
Posted Tue, 12/16/2014
 
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Field trips aren’t just for grade schoolers.  During the winter 2014 semester, Adjunct Instructor Sandra Svoboda’s PS 5050 Politics and Mass Media class held a session in the studios of WDET radio, complete with a guest lecturer. Station General Manager Craig Fahle, host of the Craig Fahle Show, spent about 90 minutes with the class.

Fahle hired Svoboda late last year as the station’s point person for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative project.  With funding from three foundations, five non-profit media groups are coordinating and expanding coverage of Detroit’s bankruptcy. Svoboda reports on the Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the station, appears on The Craig Fahle Show, and runs the website www.nextchapterdetroit.com. So for her to teach a politics/mass media class, most of the lessons could have been pulled from any given workday.

Her students last semester learned about some broadcast media history and policy before visiting the station. While there, they sat where Craig Fahle has interviewed Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, cabinet officials, numerous state and local politicians, as well as actors, musicians, writers, scientists and other key figures in Detroit and southeast Michigan.

Fahle recounted his career, starting with his time as an intern at WDET in the early 1990s and continuing through his time in Lansing with the Michigan Public Radio Network. He talked about the dynamics in Lansing for someone new to state politics – he learned to get to know legislators, figure out if they were in politics “for the right or wrong reasons,” and find sources he could trust.

One of the challenges of the modern era, Fahle told the students in attendance, is figuring out “best practices” for social media. His show (and the station) use social media for outreach, communication and responding to listeners, and he has watched politicians and policymakers struggle in the same way media have with learning to maximize use of the newer technologies.  He had a clear influence on the students, especially the one who wrote, in response to a final exam question, that he wanted to have a news-policy radio show in the future.

Sandra Svoboda earned her MPA with the Department of Political Science at Wayne State University. She covers the Detroit bankruptcy for WDET, Detroit’s public radio station (www.wdet.org and 101.9 FM) and the station’s website www.nextchapterdetroit.com.

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