Bearing witness to democracy on the road presents challenges but pays an enormous dividend
By David Swartzlander
Past President, College Media Association
Attending my first inauguration was a dream come true.
After I was hired in 1999 as a journalism instructor at Doane University in Crete, Neb., I was told I had a month to come up with an idea to teach a course for a two-week interval between fall and spring semesters. Students learned through mini-courses on campus or they traveled off-campus for academic reasons.
For days, I searched in vain for an idea. When my head hit the pillow one week before the proposal deadline, I still was clueless.
That’s when I dreamed I attended the 2001 presidential inauguration. And I realized that it happened every four years on Jan. 20, perfect timing for the class. I had my course.
Over my 22 years at Doane, I led dozens of students to five presidential inaugurations — from the “hanging chad” election of George W. Bush to the magically historical inauguration of Barack Obama to the “American Carnage” inauguration of Donald Trump. We traveled as one news organization, reporting and sharing stories with students and readers/listeners in Nebraska.