Reporters and photographers from major television networks and newspapers are expected to swarm the College’s campus this Wednesday and Thursday for the presidential candidates’ town meetings — marking what is likely to be the largest media parade at Dartmouth in recent memory.
The candidate’s forums, which will feature Democratic candidates on Wednesday and Republican candidates the following night, are expected to draw national as well as worldwide press, according College spokeswoman Laurel Stavis.
“It’s tremendously exciting,” Stavis said. “Dartmouth will become the focus of thousands and thousands of people’s attention.”
The town meetings will be broadcast by CNN and by Manchester’s WMUR. Reporters from the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, among other newspapers, are also expected to cover the event.
The town meetings will also be covered by NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
CNN’s Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff and WMUR’s Karen Brown and Tom Griffith have been selected to moderate the town meetings, which will be done by one CNN and one WMUR reporter each day.
Following the forum, huge satellite trucks and media representatives are expected to crowd the Green, according to Stavis.
“There’s been a phenomenal level of interest which has exceeded even our most aggressive predictions,” said Linda Fowler, director of the Rockefeller Center.
Even though the last major presidential election town meeting in 1988 and the Trustees’ Social Life Initiative announcement last February received considerable attention, Fowler said the media focus for this week’s event is even more intense largely because of the intense scrutiny of the Gore-Bradley contest.
Stavis called the comparison between the media attention for the town meetings and that for the Trustee Initiative a comparison between apples and oranges.
“This is a very different event going on in a very different venue involving very different people,” Stavis said. “It is part of a national process of electing our next President.”
Fowler anticipated that the candidates would want to avoid the press before the event. Before the debate begins, photographers will given a photo opportunity with the candidates in Moore Theater, after which they will be escorted out.
Although the choice to speak with the media and students after the event rests entirely with the candidates, the chances of the politicians mingling with the media and students remain high.
Referring to the recent mergers and the emergence of conglomerations in the media, Stavis said, “The process has become far more complex.”
Stavis said she is excited that Dartmouth is hosting the town meetings. “It is an opportunity for people to learn what a great institution this really is,” she said.
Fowler said that College President James Wright’s wish that the event should be an “educational experience for students” means that press will not be allowed inside Moore Theater during the actual debates.
Instead, Alumni Hall, which has been turned into a press filing center with 200 phonelines installed, will host reporters from CBS, NBC, ABC and Comedy Central.