Alumni Magazine

SPR-SUM 2017

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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46 PIERCE / SPRING 2017 S teven Dodrill '09 knew it was going to be a long night when he arrived at Franklin Pierce's Manchester campus in the late afternoon of Jan. 8, 2008. In fact, it had already felt like a mad dash for Dodrill, a Broadcast Journalism and Media Studies major, and the 20 other students who'd spent the last several months reporting on the New Hampshire presidential primary for the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication. Like the hundreds of other working journalists covering the political event, they'd blanketed the state, interviewed candidates and voters, tracked polls and conducted their own, and pushed out their reports and numbers to various media outlets, from WMUR to the "Boston Globe." It was exactly the kind of hands-on experience the Fitzwater Center and its director, Dr. Kristen Nevious, had specialized in giving Pierce students since the facility opened in the spring of 2002. Now, with the voting set to conclude in a matter of hours, Dodrill, who spearheaded the students' political coverage, hunkered down with Nevious and waited for the results to come in from the small army of Pierce students who were at polling stations and various campaign headquarters. If there was a student who came ready-made to take advantage of the Fitzwater Center's resources, it was Dodrill. The Marshfield, Mass., native landed at Pierce in the fall of 2005 with a year of radio reporting experience already under his belt. He'd covered breaking news, community events, politics and sports for a station in his hometown. As a high school senior, he'd even earned an Edward R. Murrow Award for his work on a story about the hunt for two young boys thought to have fallen through an icy lake. "I loved Pierce's tight-knit community," says Dodrill, a Fitzwater Scholar, an honor bestowed on 10 incoming freshmen each year who've shown exemplary work in print or electronic media. "And just to have a chance to have a relationship with Marlin and the Center's board, I knew there would be opportunities there that I wouldn't get at another school. And that proved true, from the first day I arrived right up until graduation, when I walked across the stage with a medallion on my chest [as a Fitzwater Honor recipient] with Marlin's face on it." As the evening pushed on and the results came in showing that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain were on their way to victory, and Pierce's coverage landed in the hands of other media outlets, Dodrill reflected on what his team had achieved and what it meant for all of them. "Kristen always told us that our goal was to help people find their voice through public discourse," he says. "You really sensed that for all of us. And it was sort of humbling to think that I was the leader of it all. I was heading up central command. We'd hung with some of the best reporters in the country, and I felt proud of what we had accomplished." CREATING CONNECTIONS – ON CAMPUS AND IN THE COMMUNITY Dodrill's story is a common one for many of the Pierce students who've come through the Fitzwater Center, home to the University's Department of Mass Communication and the Pierce Media Group, which consists of the student-run newspaper, TV studio and Raven Sports Broadcasting Network. Those who use the Fitz are as varied as the programs it offers. The lineup includes the student- produced public affairs webcast, "Tuesday Briefings," and "Conversations," a television show in which professionals talk to students about career trends and opportunities. Pierce undergraduates are immersed in the political polling process and every four years are given the opportunity to go deep into the presidential election through a round of coverage that includes reporting at both party conventions. It's a tremendous resource for the state. — DAWN DEANGELIS Above: Marlin Fitzwater Right: managing playlists at the radio station, WFPC-LP 105.3 FM

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