Election 2008: Who hits publish

Youth Radio’s newsroom is still decompressing from the election last week–and still delivering stories to our outlets. Six election-related pieces have already aired on NPR:

1. Post-election reactions to Obama’s historic win (All Things Considered).

2. A conversation between father and son about the civil rights implications of Obama’s candidacy (Day to Day).

3. A commentary from a young man making sense of Obama’s victory on the same day that California voters passed a ban on same-sex marriage (Weekend Edition Sunday).

4. Reflections on Obama’s message of hope (Morning Edition).

5. A glimpse into partisan battles breaking out at a school in Colorado (Weekend Edition Sunday).

6. Three voices on how the economic crisis–a cornerstone election issue and the new administration’s top priority–is affecting young people’s lives (Day to Day).

In addition to these stories (and more are in the works), Youth Radio produced live coverage of the election with more than 30 correspondents (ages 15 to 27) filing 50-plus online stories from every region across the US. We heard from young people at the polls in Pennsylvania, about the antiquated voting system in Georgia, a Michigan-based Republican’s predictions for the ripple effects of an Obama Presidency, a student view of swing-state North Carolina, analysis of Republican voting trends from a young political junkie in Tennessee, a comedic take on campaigning and President Obama from California, and snapshots from DC and New York.

Our Oakland-based producers curated music and videos with election themes, and we resurrected our 2008 election show, Face the Race, which ran all day on iTunes and streamed audio and video through ustream on our website.

The coverage was part of Youth Radio’s strategy as a youth-driven media outlet that combines the user-generation of youtube, the community participation of wikipedia, and the credibility of the New York Times.

With that magic combo in mind, one of the trickiest questions we faced in planning for election day and beyond was: who in this dispersed production team would be authorized to hit “publish,” and with that co-create our site’s front page? Our new site is designed for contributors to be able to upload text, video, audio, photos, and other media, and decide where their story belongs in the existing line-up.

In the end, for election day, we erred on the side of opening it up. Young people who had log ins and passwords–and, crucially, the time, know-how (including legal and ethical considerations), tech access, and connectivity–could execute every step in their own coverage, from creation to publication. For those who preferred just emailing us a couple paragraphs, or even dictating over the phone, that was fine, too.

Now that election day is behind us, our next step is to translate this methodology we applied to an intense, one-day, high stakes, national story, and adapt it into a modus operandi for our youth media newsroom.

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