Thursday, January 10, 2008

MTV Pounds the Political Pavement with Street Team '08

MTV Street Team '08 reporter Nadir explains that the exodus of manufacturing jobs has Michigan residents concerned about the economy at MTV Headquarters in New York on Jan. 9.

I'm just getting back from a tremendous experience at MTV's Street Team '08 orientation and boot camp. MTV News has assembled a dynamic, diverse and passionate group of 51 citizen journalists to cover each state and Washington DC.

MTV's Choose or Lose and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have charged us with "uncovering the untold political stories that matter most to young people in [our] states". We'll submit weekly reports that will be published online, and on mobile devices. The goal - as with all of MTV New's Choose or Lose campaigns since 1992 - is to get young people involved in the US presidential elections, to energize the youth electorate, and to help them understand that they can make a difference if they use their voices.

The 2008 election will be critical, and as Jayson Rodriguez of MTV News reports the youth vote is already shaping up to be a significant factor in the race. Jayson said:

And if it hadn't been clear before, now more than ever, the youth vote matters. In fact, Hillary Clinton specifically thanked young voters in her victory speech Tuesday night.

"Young people across New Hampshire who came out," she said, "they asked the hard questions and they voted their hearts and their minds, and I really appreciate it."

That's right. And they did the same for her chief rival Obama in Iowa. If you can get young people excited and engaged, they will be active.

America's youth are largely maligned. It is said that they only caring about Paris Hilton, video games and (...ahem) MTV. To the contrary, this new election cycle is already showing how thoughtful and involved young adults can be when they are inspired by a candidate or a cause.

Rising energy costs, a broken health care system, failing schools, two wars, a struggling economy... our local problems are the nation's problems. Each member of the Street Team had a compelling and unique story, but as we spoke about the most important issues in our individual communities, it was obvious that there are similar concerns everywhere.

Army brat Dani Carlson will explore the life of military families in her state of Alaska. Erica Anderson of Washington DC wants to find out whether the District's lack of a congressional vote will make young DC voters more active during the presidential election or more apathetic.

Nevada's Michael Gonzales and Alabama's David Whiteside are passionate about environmental issues. Christine Begay of the Navajo nation, who will report on the state of New Mexico, inspired many of us to explore the plight of indigenous populations in our own states.

We'll watch for insightful pieces from experienced political journalists like sometime Huffington Post contributor Shelby Highsmith, and Patrick Kennedy, a registered Republican who is Director of Public Programs and Public Policy at the (Bill) Clinton School of Public Service. We'll look for very strong video reports from the likes of Bay Area filmmaker Carl D. Brown, and West Virginia broadcast journalism student Griffin McElroy.

While the United States chooses a new commander-in-chief, MTV has recruited this brigade of political reporters to chronicle the race on the ground, from our own perspectives with our own voices. Street Team '08 will find out what's important to young people in an election where the the youth vote could potentially change the entire game.

Exciting times. Let's get to it!

Read More about MTV's Street Team '08 HERE.


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