C-SPAN Bus stops at Island University

Raul Alonzo Jr., Reporter

The world of national politics literally rolled onto TAMU-CC campus when the C-SPAN bus made a stop at the Island University on Feb. 8. Students were invited on board during the visit to learn more about the network and engage with its extensive array of educational resources.

The stop was part of C-SPAN’s “Southern Swing” leg of its tour around the country, a trip undertaken by the bus since its inception back in 1993. The bus made four stops in Corpus Christi. Along with the TAMU-CC visit, the bus visited Driscoll Middle School, W.B. Ray High School and Miller Metro High School.

For Doug Hemmig, Community Relations Representative for C-SPAN, the visit offered students an opportunity to see how the network aims to keep people informed.

“What I hope, especially for college students, is that we’re a wonderful resource as they get ready to vote,” Hemmig said. “A lot of college students are first time voters.”

Photo credited to Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES.Doug Hemmig, Community Relations Representative for C-SPAN, gives a presentation to one of Dr. Jeff Dillard’s Political Science classes.

The bus previously visited the Island University back in 2010. Since then, the network has outfitted it with several features, including 11 touch screen tablets, an onboard studio and a 360-degree video station. Students were also interviewed as part of C-SPAN’s “Voices from the Road” project.

The experience was brought to the classroom during the bus’s stay at the Island University. Hemmig gave a short presentation to one of the classes of Dr. Jeff Dillard, assistant professor of Political Science.

For Dillard, the goals for such a presentation were twofold: educating majors on applied experience opportunities, but also showing students the unbiased and unfiltered approach C-SPAN takes when covering the government.

“I wanted the students to understand that an unbiased, unfiltered way to consume news and remain informed still exists,” Dillard said. “I frequently tell my students that the only way to think critically about political issues is to get messages from the widest variety of news sources possible and then apply the knowledge they’ve gained as political scientists to answer a handful of questions.”

Some of those questions should lead to an understanding of who is saying what to whom, what the conditions and circumstances are, and identifying the intent and results.

Photo credited to Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES. A sign sits outside the C-SPAN bus alerting students that tours were available during their stop on TAMU-CC campus.

“When you get your news from major TV Networks, Cable News, or online sources, you’re probably being given a message through a filter,” Dillard said, “and media biases are impossible to escape because our media outlets operate in a free market environment.”

For pre-law Political Science major Michelle Hargrove, the presentation showed them one new resource they had not known of before.

“I think it’s an important resource, period, in and of itself,” Hargrove said. “I didn’t know there was a neutral network out there. The other networks I feel always input their own opinion, their own bias or whatever they need for views, ratings, etc.”

Along with touching on internships the network offers to students over the summer at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., the presentation detailed a brief history of C-SPAN and emphasized the “fly-on-the-wall” approach the network takes to covering political events. This consists partly through showing the entirety of speeches as opposed to sound bites, leaving out analysis and rotating hosts for their morning shows throughout the week.

“It’s your government,” Hemmig said. “It’s our job to turn on the cameras and let you see it.”

Photo credited to Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES. C-SPAN’s slogan appears on the window of the bus.
Photo credited to Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES. Doug Hemmig, Community Relations Representative for C-SPAN, works at a computer on board the C-SPAN bus during their stop on TAMU-CC campus Feb. 8.
Photo credited to Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES. Doug Hemmig, Community Relations Representative for C-SPAN, demonstrates one of the 11 tablets available for visitors to interact with on board the C-SPAN bus.