Covering Elections: A Guide for Student-Led Media
High school media teams are major sources of information for students. Announcements, newspapers and other platforms can play a key role in encouraging student voting and education by covering candidates and issues and by announcing registration and election deadlines. This resource provides you with some best practices to encourage civic participation through your school media team. Download a PDF of this resource here.
Provide Students With Comprehensive Coverage
Serve as a trusted source of information for candidates and issues. Interview candidates running for state and/or local offices and cover debates or town hall events taking place. Run feature stories that highlight issues that may affect the student body. Talk about any potential barriers to voting to help students navigate the electoral process.
Make Your Coverage Relatable to Students
Highlight issues affecting students by frequently interviewing them to understand which issues are most important to the high school community. Providing students with coverage about issues that matter to them helps achieve the journalistic goal of being in service to the community. Consider asking the following questions: Which issue(s) affect you most? How do the candidates’ positions on these issues impact you? Make a conscious effort to interview students of color and other marginalized groups in order to represent all students’ perspectives.
Inform Students of Upcoming Events
Update students on upcoming voter registration and early voting deadlines. Make sure to include relevant contact information so that the student can pursue further information on the topic (e.g., the local election office or Secretary of State’s office). If your school has organizations or individuals who work on voter education and engagement, promote their events as well and include contact information for students who want to get involved.
Rigorously Fact-Check Information
Fact-checking is an important critical thinking skill for high schoolers to develop. It can ensure that politicians and public figures are held accountable for their words. Create a database that assesses the accuracy of claims made by candidates and other public figures. If a local news outlet or national organization is already maintaining a similar database, consider partnering with them and promoting that resource to students.
Provide Live Coverage During Election Season
Keep students updated on election news through Twitter threads, Snapchat stories and Instagram posts. Once election season is over, provide updates on which candidates have been elected. Above all, report on how these results will affect students, based on which issues are most important to the school community. Doing so will help foster a climate where students recognize the importance of voting, even for those who are not old enough to vote yet.