The arrival of the C-SPAN Bus in front of the Alfonso Elder Student Union transformed George Street into a digital classroom on Feb. 22.
C-SPAN is a not-for-profit company that documents and broadcasts coverage of government proceedings without commentary or editing. “Created by cable,” C-SPAN was founded in 1979 as a public service and is funded by cable and satellite companies.
“We get six cents a month, that’s it, from your cable bill. It pays for this bus, pays for all three networks, my paycheck, everything. So because of that we don’t get any funding from government, from political parties which is what makes us nonpartisan,” Jenae Green, a C-SPAN Marketing Representative, said.
N.C. Central University was one of about a dozen stops on the C-SPAN HBCU Tour 2017. The tour is part of C-SPAN’s community outreach initiative. The bus travels to campaign events, middle schools, high schools, and universities.
“It’s really cool to see the inner workings of what they can do on the road and great that they are doing the HBCU tour and giving African-American students a chance to get internships,” said Chris McKoy, one of the first students to visit the bus.
According to C-SPAN Marketing Representative Doug Hemming, the bus provides a mobile presentation space where students and educators can explore more than 200,000 hours of C-SPAN footage.
The 40 foot-long bus was first commissioned in 1993 to serve as a travelling learning center and production studio. In the front section of the bus is an exhibit filled with screens where students can quiz themselves on legislative knowledge.
The back of the C-SPAN bus is outfitted with a soundproof production room where politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders and Ben Carson were interviewed during the 2016 campaign.
NCCU student Sanesha McPherson said she had no idea what C-SPAN did before touring the bus. Ayanna Holmes, a social work major, said she was getting extra credit for touring the bus.
“I was just on FaceTime with my grandparents, and they were very excited,” said Holmes whose grandparents regularly watch C-SPAN.
Aboard the bus, Hemming used a large touch screen monitor to demonstrate the capabilities of C-SPAN’s video clip function, which allows anyone to edit and download nonpartisan primary sources for their research. He also told students about internship opportunities at C-SPAN’s Washington, D.C. office, an opportunity sophomore Kierra Dobbins said she would definitely follow up on.
C-SPAN offers internships in their marketing, history, television and political departments. Hemming said C-SPAN, which has about 270 employees, relies heavily on their interns.
“It’s not getting coffee and donuts; it’s hands on, and it’s a valuable experience,” he said.
The C-SPAN bus began its HBCU tour with visits to Virginia Union University in Richmond and Virginia State University in Petersburg. After visiting NCCU, the bus stopped by Winston Salem State University Wednesday evening before traveling to Johnson C. Smith University on Thursday.
Story by Rebekkah Huss
Video reporting by Autavius Smith