This Election Day, the C-SPAN Bus Celebrates 25 Years of Civic Outreach
It's been 25 years since C-SPAN launched its traveling C-SPAN Bus Program, and to celebrate the occasion the network sent its award-winning state-of-the art motor coach on a "50 Capitals Tour" which started last year. Throughout the tour, teachers, students, elected officials and others climb aboard to learn about the network's multi-platform public service resources. This anniversary is a timely one given that today is Election Day, and that C-SPAN's role in providing political coverage is one of the most unique in journalism. What many people don't realize is that the network is not a tax-funded government channel—it's a service provided by cable affiliates across the country. This gives the network the freedom to televise uninterrupted, commercial-free and uneditorialized debates and congressional proceedings—thus letting viewers and voters form their own opinions about candidates or issues at hand.
C-SPAN was established in 1979 with the mission to give audiences comprehensive coverage of government proceedings sans commentary and analysis. As C-SPAN’s Vice President of Digital Media Richard Weinstein told NCTA earlier this year, "That straightforward principle continues to influence all aspects of our network, helping C-SPAN remain relevant at a time when people have so many different choices where and how they get their news." Since the network is not driven by ratings, C-SPAN coverage can take the time to hone in on the atmosphere in hearings and briefings before and after they begin. "In this era of social media and instantaneous public commentary, giving people the chance to see what's going on in our government without filters is more critical than ever," added Weinstein.
So where does the bus fit into all this? The C-SPAN Bus plays a huge role in the network's mission—and especially during elections—to inform the public about the democratic process and their role as U.S. voters. NCTA had the privilege of witnessing this firsthand when the team traveled with the bus during the 2016 presidential primary in New Hampshire. The bus stopped in at schools and rallies along the campaign trail and offered people a glimpse into C-SPAN's nonpartisan coverage of the presidential candidates, and gave them a platform to voice their own views over the C-SPAN Bus's social media channel.
C-SPAN's airing of every facet of the U.S. political process is what gives American voters and future voters a front seat to national events, a dive into how our government works and the people who run it, and the resources and information they need to become engaged and informed citizens. The bus adds that human element to all of this through the network's personal face-to-face outreach and goal to empower every person they meet to go out and make a difference through their civic duties.
Happy Election Day, and Happy 25th Anniversary to the C-SPAN Bus!