Regardless of the political spin pundits put on the outcome of the first public face-off between the incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and her Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, what was evident was that the media exposure for Saint Mary's College as a result of hosting the Sept. 1 Senate debate was overwhelmingly positive and widespread.
According to KTVU, the lead media sponsor of the debate (the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED were co-sponsors), more than 580,000 households in California watched the event, which was seen in all 11 broadcast TV markets in California, including Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego. The one-hour broadcast from the LeFevre Theatre was carried nationally on C-SPAN TV and Radio and received statewide coverage on California Public Radio stations, including locally on KQED.
Hundreds of print and online stories identified the College as the location for what turned out to be a spirited exchange between the two candidates. Scores of broadcast announcements, such as "Our live campaign coverage is from Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California," were heard across the state and the country. Strategic placement of the Saint Mary's logo - seen on the moderator's podium, the panelists' table and inserted into broadcast graphics during the debate and on a backdrop behind the candidates during the post-debate analysis - helped to reinforce greater public awareness of the Saint Mary's institutional identity
The senatorial debate generated approximately 190 original news stories and was featured in national outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, MSNBC and the CBS Morning News. Factoring in duplicates of stories from wire services such as the Associated Press and multiple broadcasts of the same news story, the amount of generated news clips about the Senate debate at Saint Mary's rises to more than 550.
A fraction of stories focused on the protestors that gathered outside of SMC's campus and the nature of those reports, and the peaceful protests, were about the candidate's positions on election issues and were not College-related.
Around 75 representatives of various news outlets visited Saint Mary's College for the debate. Press kits distributed to media in the Soda Center (which served as the press center) included an at-a-glance description of the College, mission statement, biography of Brother President Ronald Gallagher, a Saint Mary's magazine and viewbook. It also included, importantly, SMC faculty experts and students who were available to comment on the debate and election issues.
As a result of providing faculty expert contact information, student availability and debate-related academic activities to journalists, several interview opportunities resulted for SMC faculty members, including Communication professor Rev. Mike Russo, marketing and business professor Tomas Gomez Arias and dean of the School of Liberal Arts Steve Woolpert. Additionally, some of SMC's best and brightest students were spotlighted in the media. A recorded question from student ambassador Alana Armstrong was one of four queries posed by citizens to the candidates during the debate. And several other students were featured prominently in news reports, including a KQED radio story focusing on the College's debate team and interviews with student leaders on KTVU's Morning News Show.
Overall, direct media references to Saint Mary's as the host of the debate were extremely positive. The success of the Senate debate underscored the College's intent to position itself as a national institution of academic rigor with a commitment to civic engagement and dialogue.
Director of Media Relations