A news studio on wheels rolled up to Queens on a beautiful Friday afternoon, bringing a vast collection of resources and educational opportunities for students.
This opportunity came in the form of the C-SPAN Bus program, which has been offering hands-on demonstrations to citizens across the country for 25 years. To celebrate the anniversary of the program this year, the network’s bus is embarking on its “50 States Tour” where it will be visiting every state capital and stopping in other major cities across the country. In each capital they will conduct interviews with elected officials on the bus, polling them on important regional issues, and broadcasting the meetings on a morning Washington Journal program.
Perhaps even more important than the government interviews, are the educational tools that the bus tour is offering to citizens, students especially. “Our resources are vast. We have a video library of over 230,000 hours of videos,” said Joel Bacon of C-SPAN. “We go to schools, like Queens University, to tell students about all of the great resources that we have.”
The bus’s Jan. 19 stop near the Rogers building on Selwyn Ave. allowed them to do just that for Queens students, drawing about five dozen students and Charlotte residents. On board the bus, visitors interacted with technology demonstrations and C-SPAN personnel to help build their knowledge about the government and the network itself. “My favorite thing on the C-SPAN Bus was the interactive computers that allowed you to interact with and see footage from sessions in Congress, the White House, etcetera,” said Noah Goldman, one of the student visitors. “It also provided an opportunity to learn governmental information as well.”
One of Noah’s peers, Isabel Perez, likewise enjoyed the new facts she learned about her government while on the bus. “My favorite things I got to learn about on the bus were through the three quizzes they had: executive, legislative, and judicial. It both gave me a chance to test my knowledge and taught me new facts about each of the branches that I didn’t know,” Perez said.
Both students also expressed their amazement with how much equipment fit onto the bus. Perez said, “I was astonished that they had an entire production facility on the bus. I always think of buses as being cramped and not able to fit much, so I was surprised to see the studio set up… It was incredible they could fit that much.”
“The experience was valuable because it informed students about C-SPAN and what it does,” Perez said. “So often the news we watch is mostly talk shows with political pundits, but C-SPAN shows what is happening without partisan commentary.”
Goldman also emphasized the importance of C-SPAN’s impartial position in news coverage. “In times of strong political polarization, I think organizations like C-SPAN are more important now than ever before,” he claims. “C-SPAN gives people an opportunity to engage with American politics in an educational and effective way.”
For those who would like similar access to the information that C-SPAN offers, Spectrum cable broadcasts the network in Charlotte on channels 74, 225, and 226. The network’s website, C-SPAN.org, also offers informative resources that anyone can use to learn about their government today. It may not be on a studio bus, but all the knowledge is right at your fingertips.
Project Airwaves posted a video story on the C-SPAN bus tour.
Photo: Joel Bacon of C-SPAN speaks with Queens students Isabel Perez, Josh Clasky, and Noah Goldman, and Queens associate professor of political science Margaret Commins.