NPR’s Debbie Elliott Prepares for Lights, Camera At Alabama Debate Tonight

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott visits broadcast news class hours before moderating the first Alabama gubernatorial on the campus of University of Alabama.

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NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott spoke to broadcast news students Thursday hours before she is set to moderate the first debate between Alabama's two gubernatorial candidates.

Hours before she is set to query the two men who want to be Alabama’s next governor, Debbie Elliott stopped by one University of Alabama class to give students some pointers  on how to query elected officials.

“Don’t ever be intimidated because they’re just people,” she said.

While she encouraged the students not to be intimidated by the politicians, she admitted she is not used to the lights and cameras that will be pointed at her tonight as the Alabama and nation watches the first gubernatorial debate featuring Republican Robert Bentley and Democrat Ron Sparks.

The debate to be held at University of Alabama’s Moody Music Building,  will be televised live on Alabama Public Television and Alabama Public Radio. C-SPAN will also pick up the live feed and share it with viewers around the nation.

“I don’t do television. So it should be very interesting,” said Elliott, who arrived back in Tuscaloosa last night.  Now an NPR National correspondent based in South Alabama, Elliott was the news director at Alabama Public Radio.

Even as she’s produced numerous stories about the Gulf Oil spill and other events in Alabama,  the former anchor of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered is looking forward to tonight’s event.

“It will be good to get them on the record on the issues,” she said.

Getting lawmakers on the record is what Elliott does best.    Before moving back to Alabama, she covered Capitol Hill for NPR.

Her alma mater included a short feature about her experience covering politics on the debate web site.

She covered the Alabama legislature right out of college.

Tonight’s debate is the first of two such meetings of the men who want to succeed Bob Riley in the governor’s mansion. The second debate will be at 7 p.m., Oct. 19 at Auburn University.  At both schools, the student government associations have taken the lead in gathering questions and organizing the events along with the League of Women Voters of Alabama.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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