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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Asma Khalid, NPR correspondent, discusses role of media in politics

NPR.jpg
Asma Khalid, a political reporter for NPR, speaks about her experience covering the 2016 Presidential Election at Colorado State University Monday afternoon. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

Students and community members filled the Lory Student Center ballroom to listen to Asma Khalid, a National Public Radio correspondent, discussed the role of media in politics Monday afternoon.

Rosa Martey, an associate professor of journalism and media communications at Colorado State University, moderated the event.

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Shauna Deluca, the assistant director in International Programs on campus, introduced Khalid and Martey, encouraging attendees to enter the discussion with open minds.

“Come into this discussion with attitudes of openness and curiosity,” Deluca said. “It will allow you to understand unique perspectives.”

The Office of International Programs hosted the event. Deluca coordinated the event, stating that she has wanted Khalid to speak on campus for a long time because of her knowledge on important topics.

“I think being able to offer as many opportunities as I can to our campus community to interact with thought leaders, with national voices, (and with) leaders in certain industries and fields, just strengthens learning and your experience on campus,” Deluca said.

Before Khalid began, she urged audience members to participate to make the conversation an interactive experience. Attendees lined up behind microphones placed in between rows to propose questions to Khalid regarding topics examined within Khalid’s initial discussion.

Topics of discussion revolved around Khalid’s investigations regarding the 2016 Presidential Election. During the election, Khalid worked as a campaign reporter focusing on the intersection of demographics and politics.

Before Khalid worked on NPR’s Election Team, she covered politics for WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. Khalid also worked at NPR following her college graduation, serving as a producer for “Morning Edition.” Her radio experience extends to BBC Newshour in London where she worked as an intern during graduate school.

Khalid primarily focused on demographics playing a key role in elections. Khalid believes that demographics aid the population in understanding why certain groups of people vote a certain way.

Khalid shared some of her personal findings regarding demographics during the previous election.

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“One sort of demographic group that is interesting is white women who, in previous elections, voted for a Republican candidate,” Khalid said. “These types of women were really turned off by Donald Trump. Some were turned off by things they heard, yet others thought there were other priorities that needed to be stressed that outweighed some of their personal convictions.”

Another demographic Khalid showed interest in during the election was communities of color. She traveled around the United States comparing attitudes and behaviors of certain groups, and noticed a lack of enthusiasm from communities of color that were prevalent during President Barack Obama’s election.

Another topic of interest was social media and the role it plays in elections.

“When you map perspectives, a majority of us live in social media bubbles,” Khalid said. “Yet, when looking at data, it’s hard to understand how complex voters actually are.”

Khalid commented that two-thirds of voters got some sort of information from social media regarding the elections, yet found some limitations in the use of social media as a reliable source. She explained how difficult it is to have complex conversations behind a screen within a limited amount of characters.

Questions from the audience focused predominantly on the role of journalists in covering politics. Discussions included topics of polling strategies, technology, fake news and how the election has changed journalism.

“Our jobs are to be curious… So ,maybe we as journalists need to do a better job of education and open up windows for others to understand our process,” Khalid said.

“Mostly, I think this election has sparked the desire to have more reporters due to accusations of being fake news,” Khalid said. “Our jobs are to be curious and explain thing to folks, so maybe we as journalists need to do a better job of education and sort of open up windows for others to understand our process.”

Collegian reporter Piper Davis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Piperldavis.

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