Traditionally, students have turned to news outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times for coverage of political elections. This year, they can add MTV to the list.
Last December, Think MTV, a community outreach initiative, selected a group of 51 citizen journalists as part of their Street Team ’08 initiative for their Emmy-winning “Choose or Lose” campaign. There is one journalist from each state plus Washington, D.C., and they will be covering the 2008 presidential election from a youth perspective using video, blogs, photos and other weekly multimedia reports from their geographic area.
This is the first time that the program has had a person representing every state, with the majority of the correspondents being under the age of 30.
“We really hope that it will give young people a new way to become educated and involved in issues that really matter to them,” said Jason Rzepka, director of communications at MTV. “The youth vote is going up, so the end goal is to stimulate as many young people to hit the polls as possible.”
Street Team ’08 applicants had to endure an intensive application process for the program, which involved essays, short form videos, reference letters and an interview, Rzepka said. Those selected to join Street Team ’08 had to attend a training session at MTV’s New York office in early January that involved camera handling, legal issues and journalistic techniques.
The multimedia submissions will be distributed through think.mtv.com, MTV Mobile and other media outlets. Select material will also be shown on MTV channels, including mtvU and MTV2.
This past November, Anthony Wojtkowiak, a University of Miami senior majoring in video-film and psychology, discovered that he was selected to represent Florida. He hopes to use this experience to hone his skills as a filmmaker and video journalist.
“The opportunity to work with MTV was not something I could pass up,” he said. “The idea for me is to present news and stories and question the way we think and inspire debate.”
Wojtkowiak, 21, was a Resident Assistant in Pearson Residential College for the last three years and is currently a senator for the School of Communication and a member of Kappa Sigma. He has also completed a journalism internship for the John S. and James L.