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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Column: “Crossfire”: It’s a wrap

As you likely know by now, CNN is calling it a wrap on “Crossfire” as a stand-alone program after 23 years on the air, the last three at GW.

During its unprecedented run on our campus, over 640 live programs have been produced in the Jack Morton Auditorium, with some 107,000 people in the studio audience and more than 175 GW students having worked on the production. Four academic courses have been built around the program. In addition, five CNN specials, including the network’s tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan, emanated from our campus as a result of the ongoing relationship.

So, what has this all meant to our University and us?

“Crossfire” has given GW students a spectacular up-close-and-personal look at the real world of network television, ranging from its use of state-of-the-art technology to the editorial and production processes. Those who volunteered, interned or sat in the audience have experienced something never before offered on a college campus on a daily basis.

The program brought top politicians to GW, ignited scores of political debates on campus and even contributed to personal relationships, as Friday became known as “Date Night” due to the high number of couples in the audience.

CNN’s “Crossfire” at GW became a regular part of Colonial Inauguration, with the entire audience comprising incoming students and their families on C.I. days.

The hosts and producers have guest lectured classes, spoken at University convocations, and have participated in numerous events produced by GW student groups.

As noted by The Hatchet, CNN’s “Crossfire” at GW has contributed to the University’s designations in the Kaplan/Newsweek Guide to Colleges as one of “America’s Hottest Schools” and this year’s “Hottest School for Political Junkies.”

The program became a hot ticket for visitors to the nation’s capital as students from dozens of other universities across the country and indeed, around the world, attended “Crossfire” at GW while in Washington. In fact, as of this writing, we are holding 2,300 advance reservations for future programs through May!

Over the course of the past three years, “Crossfire” has generated more than one billion impressions for the University among television viewers nationally and internationally. As a result, thousands of people have now learned what we knew all along – The George Washington University is a dynamic institution where media and politics converge in Washington, D.C.

The growth of the School of Media and Public Affairs, the creation of the Media and Public Affairs Building and the Jack Morton Auditorium, and the notion of network television programming from the center of our campus were all the visions of President Trachtenberg. CNN’s “Crossfire” at GW represents one of many visions that have become reality. Its success is the result of the efforts of many people, but in the end, it was you, the students, who made it work. For this, we say thank you.

Whether you have worked on the program, attended as an audience member or have taken the time to make suggestions – as The Hatchet has done periodically – the success of the past three years is a testament to the extraordinary level of engagement demonstrated by GW students and other members of our campus community. It has been a great run, and you have been a major contributing factor.

Finally, as one door closes, another opens. CNN is planning to continue its partnership with GW after “Crossfire” winds down as a stand-alone program. This will open a new chapter in our relationship and will hopefully bring new and different opportunities for our students.

As they say in television, “Stay tuned!”

-The writer is GW’s vice president for communications and a professorial lecturer in journalism.

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