Representatives from the presidential campaigns will join journalists covering the campaign Friday at a conference at Northwestern University.

The conference — which is free and open to the public — will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the McCormick Auditorium in Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive on the Evanston campus

Titled “Election 2008: New Voters, New Media, New Engagement,” it is cosponsored by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in conjunction with the University’s Center for Civic Engagement.

“This may be the election in which young people play a pivotal role,” said Ellen Shearer, William F. Thomas Professor, director of Medill’s Washington Program and an organizer of the event. “The parties, candidates and news media are paying attention to them –and this conference will tap into experts to talk about this exciting phenomenon.”

For young voters, the 2008 presidential election is breaking new ground. Not only have they been unusually engaged in the election so far, they are getting their political information from different places in different ways than older voters, Shearer added.

Speakers will include representatives of Illinois Public Interest Research Group, spokespeople for presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, Washington Post Internet reporter Jose Antonio Vargas, Tom Beyans of, Chicago bureau chief Ben Goldberger, Editor & Publisher columnist Maegan Carberry and the director of digital media at Northwestern’s Media Management Center, Vivian Vahlberg.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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