Newhouse Students Hit the Trail to Cover 2024 Campaign 

After years of buildup, the 2024 presidential primary season is finally here.  

This once-every-four-years exercise in American democracy provides an exceptional opportunity for Newhouse School journalism students to hone their skills covering the 2024 campaign, both on the trail and in the nation’s capital.  

“They are young voters, and whatever the outcome of this election, it will have a great impact on their lives. It’s really important to see it from that perspective,” said Beverly Kirk, director of Washington programs at Newhouse and professor of practice in broadcast and digital journalism.  

A person take a photograph on their phone at a presidential rally
Broadcast and digital journalism junior Madeline Marino gets coverage of the crowds at the Nikki Haley rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Ronnie Parrillo)
a media press set up with cameras and computers at a presidential rally
The media press set up at Nikki Haley’s rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Madeline Marino)

“Not only will they have this incredible opportunity, but they will also have a front-row seat to history that’s going to impact their lives,” Kirk said. 

And students will get to learn from former journalists like Kirk, who have extensive first-hand experience covering elections and American politics.  

Kirk’s reporting resumé includes stints at NBC, NPR and PBS. Joel Kaplan, the Newhouse associate dean of graduate programs who leads student coverage of the New Hampshire primary, worked at The Chicago Tribune and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting while working for The Tennessean in Nashville. 

a person takes a photo on their phone of an american legion sign outside at a presidential rally
Magazine, news and digital journalism junior Andie Vigliotti takes a photo outside of the Nikki Haley rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Madeline Marino)

Kirk and Kaplan are working with Newhouse Dean Mark J. Lodato and Margaret Talev, Kramer Director for the Syracuse University Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship, to build coverage plans for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions this summer.  

“Experiences like what we’re going to do in New Hampshire and the conventions, those are the real difference-makers, they really connect the students to the moment,” said Talev, a professor of practice at Newhouse and a political journalist and news analyst who has covered or managed coverage of the White House and 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. 

“If you’re [covering a primary or convention], you can get bit by the bug, and it can really make a difference in how you pursue your work experiences and your continued study,” Talev said. 

While classes resumed Jan. 16 at the University, the 17 students selected to travel to New Hampshire to cover the first-in-the-nation primary won’t have much time to settle back into campus for the spring semester. They traveled east to New Hampshire the next day for a week of coverage leading up to the Jan. 23 primary.  

Beverly Kirk headshot
Beverly Kirk

Students will likely encounter a media frenzy unlike any they’ve encountered in their young careers, said Kaplan, who is also a professor of magazine, news and digital journalism. He has led coverage of the New Hampshire primary since 1992.  

When the students start working, “they’re with the big leagues now. [The students] meet all people that they see on CNN or Fox or MSNBC or NBC or ABC,” Kaplan said. “They’ll see [journalists from] The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the A-listers of journalism.”  

“They’ll say ‘I can do this too. I can ask questions to someone who’s going to be president of the United States one day.’ And you realize that you’ve got it in you. You have the thing.” 

Maragret Talev headshot
Margaret Talev

Students relentlessly prepare before arriving in New Hampshire. They learn, read and watch all they can about their candidates. They contact TV stations and news outlets in their candidate’s state, asking producers and editors to consider taking the packages and stories the students will produce. Once there, they hold planning meetings every morning.  

“New Hampshire is so small and homogenous,” Kaplan said. “Students are going to places like diners, so you go in the diner and then you’re talking to people. You’re just doing reporting, but it’s more realistic because that week you don’t have classes. You’re just in New Hampshire.” 

Joel Kaplan headshot
Joel Kaplan

Political journalism coverage and experiential learning will also naturally extend to the Newhouse School’s program in Washington, which is slated to move into a new building with more space this year. Plans for expanded offerings include classes in sports data and politics, crisis management and reporting in Washington.  

Experiences also include attending a taping of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” visiting the U.S. Capitol and the offices of Meta; and conversations and networking with journalists like Peter Baker of The New York Times and Philip Bump of The Washington Post.  

“We’re trying to use our location of Washington, our proximity to some of these really interesting people, to give students some real-life connections to thought leaders or people who can open windows for them,” Talev said.

Editor’s note: For Newhouse alums involved in managing political convention coverage this year, especially those based in Chicago or Milwaukee: If you have opportunities for our students to report or assist your reporters in news gathering during those conventions, the Newhouse School wants to hear from you. Our generous Newhouse Network can help current students get a taste of working alongside seasoned reporters and editors in a real-world learning experience that can provide a spark to foster the next generation of political journalists. 
We want to build these pipelines for future presidential elections to come. We would love to speak with you in days and weeks ahead as you start to plan coverage or call on you if you have tips for students about how to a campaign, primary, general election, debate or convention. Of course, we’d love to meet with you while in Milwaukee and Chicago.
For more information, please contact Margaret Talev at