MTV’s Choose Or Lose Taps Local Reporters To Cover Presidential Election

Street Team '08 consists of 51 citizen journalists who will submit videos, blogs, photos and more from across the country.

The presidential candidates can run, but it will be hard for them to hide from the horde of citizen journalists tapped by MTV’s Choose or Lose ’08 to cover the race for the White House.

A group of 51 local reporters — one from each state and Washington, D.C. — will follow the 2008 elections and deliver weekly multimedia reports tailored for mobile devices.

Using short-form videos, blogs, animation, photos and podcasts, the reports will be distributed through MTV Mobile, Think.MTV.com, more than 1,800 sites in The Associated Press‘ Online Video Network and a soon-to-launch Wireless Application Protocol site. The Street Team ’08 reporters were carefully selected after an extensive nationwide search, and they represent every aspect of today’s youth audience — from seasoned student-newspaper journalists to documentary filmmakers, the children of once-illegal immigrants and community organizers.

They are conservative and liberal, from big cities and small towns, but all are tied together through a passion for politics and a yearning to make the youth voice heard during this pivotal election. The correspondents will begin reporting early next month after an intensive MTV News orientation in New York, during which they’ll be armed with laptops, video cameras and cell phones and challenged to uncover the untold political stories that matter most to young people in their respective states.

“Recent MTV research shows young people believe their generation will be a major force in determining who is elected in the upcoming local and national elections,” said Ian Rowe, MTV’s vice president of public affairs and strategic partnership, “and Street Team ’08 will be a key way for our audience to connect with peers, as well as get informed and engaged on the local and political issues that matter to them most.”

The Street Team ’08 program is made possible by a $700,000 Knight News Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight News Challenge is an annual worldwide competition awarding $5 million for innovative ideas that use digital media to inform and inspire communities. The Knight Foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the search for bold community-news experiments.

“We hope to find out whether or not our most important political event — the election of a president — matters to young people, and whether or not it matters more when it comes to them through the lens of their issues and the screen of their cell phone,” said Eric Newton, the Knight Foundation’s vice president of journalism programs. “We also hope to find out what important youth issues are being overlooked by traditional media as the Street Team coverage goes beyond the presidential horse race.”

All 51 of the Street Team members have active profiles on Think.MTV.com, MTV’s online community for social activism.

In an interview with Colorado University News Services, Trevor Martin, 23, who is about to graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder with degrees in marketing and media studies, said he’s excited about the citizen-journalist assignment to cover the election in Colorado. “MTV is looking to cover the election from a new-media and youth perspective,” Martin said. “I’ll be doing a whole litany of things, including broadcasting, blogging, vlogging … and covering the Democratic National Convention. I like to say I’ll be a one-man band.”

Among the issues he plans to cover leading up to the election are the environment, including natural-gas drilling and carbon taxation; the war in Iraq; youth voting; and voter registration. “Voter registration is a huge barrier when it comes to youth voting,” Martin said. “Young people want to vote, but they don’t necessarily know the steps involved in registering. We’re the YouTube and Facebook generation. We’re used to clicking a mouse instead of going to the county clerk and registering to vote.”

Meet the 51 MTV Choose or Lose Street Team ’08 citizen journalists:

· David Whiteside, Alabama
· Dani Carlson, Alaska
· Nicole Fagin, Arizona
· Patrick Kennedy, Arkansas
· Carl Brown, California
· Trevor Martin, Colorado
· Megan Budnick, Connecticut
· Stephanie Woods, Delaware
· Anthony Wojtkowiak, Florida
· Shelby Highsmith, Georgia
· Angela Wood, Hawaii
· Brian Rich, Idaho
· Jacqueline Ingles, Illinois
· Whitney Allen, Indiana
· Nathan Stienstra, Iowa
· Alex Parker, Kansas
· Lauren Snowden, Kentucky
· Phillip Rollins, Louisiana
· Jaime McLeod, Maine
· Kristen Teraila, Maryland
· Kyle de Beausset, Massachusetts
· Nadir Omowale, Michigan
· Carissa Jackson, Minnesota
· Haley Crum, Mississippi
· Steven Smith, Missouri
· K’Lynn Sloan, Montana
· Jane Fleming Kleeb, Nebraska
· Michael Gonzales, Nevada
· Lauren Sausser, New Hampshire
· Sia Nyorkor, New Jersey
· Christine Begay, New Mexico
· Sara Benincasa Donnelly, New York
· Carla Babb, North Carolina
· Emily Catalano, North Dakota
· Joel Hanek, Ohio
· Jill Penuel, Oklahoma
· Joaquin Ramon Herrera, Oregon
· Cassidy Hartmann, Pennsylvania
· Tom Shevlin, Rhode Island
· Shantel Middleton, South Carolina
· Jonna Langston, South Dakota
· Dustin Ogdin, Tennessee
· Maira Garcia, Texas
· Charles Geraci, Utah
· Dustin Degree, Vermont
· Sabina Thaler, Virginia
· Cory Midgarden, Washington
· Erica Anderson, Washington, D.C.
· Griffin McElroy, West Virginia
· Charlie Berens, Wisconsin
· Nick Perkins, Wyoming