MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Sometimes there’s a big difference between what you can see in-person at a campaign rally and what gets reported in the news media. Professors Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson have spent months attending rallies by all the major candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere.

What’s sometimes lost in news coverage, says Johnson, is that rallies attract “a cacaphony of voices,” from special interest groups to protesters outside the venues. He says there’s a great benefit from this kind of grassroots involvement because it forces the candidates to confront authentic questions and issues from real people. “There’s a real civic education that’s taking place, both for the candidates and the audiences, and for the polity as a whole,” Johnson says.

Dickinson writes the blog Presidential Power and is frequently quoted in the national news media. He often live tweets political events at @MattDickinson44. Johnson, also a regular in the national media, tweets at @bnjohns.