Democracy & Me

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In 2020, we flipped the focus of Democracy & Me to the voices, ideas and beliefs of young adults. Though we continue to provide enhanced lesson plans for teachers and a blog by Dr. David Childs, we designed the Democracy & Z podcast, Student Voices Competition, internship program and What Does Justice Look Like student features to increase students’ civic participation.

Democracy & Z is a new student podcast developed in collaboration with Elementz, a local urban arts center. The podcast features young people from communities across our listening area, sharing their unique Gen-Z perspective on issues like recent civil rights protests, immigration, gun violence and the environment.

Journalism is changing so Cincinnati Public Radio launched a new internship opportunity for area college and high school students through Democracy & Me with academic support from the University of Cincinnati. Our Fall 2020 class of 10 Democracy & Me interns, including 4 college-level interns and 6 high school-level apprentices, were selected with an emphasis on community voices underrepresented in public media (BIPOC, Latinx and non-Black POC, LGBTQIA+ and students with disabilities.) Interns and apprentices will work primarily with CPR’s educational outreach coordinator, Julie Coppens, producing youth-centered content for the Democracy & Me website and e-newsletter, Democracy & Z podcast, YouTube channel and other media platforms, with some crossover to WVXU, our NPR-affiliated news station. Over the course of the semester students will pursue a wide range of digital-storytelling projects, both individually and collaboratively, that fit their unique skills, professional goals and interests (journalistic, cultural, creative, technical), and will be mentored by CPR’s professional staff. We plan to repeat the program in the spring with a new class of interns and we will begin recruiting in October 2020.

This intern pilot program is designed to engage young adults, teaching them basic journalism standards while integrating their ideas about the news they consume and the world they are inheriting. Democracy & Z, as well as these internship opportunities, provides a platform for their ideas and creativity and work experience – and it expands WVXU’s reach within the community and informs our own professional growth.

During the past year, we built relationships with student journalists. Talawanda High School journalist Eliot Berberich, one of our Student Voices Competition honorees this year who’s co-produced two Democracy & Z episodes for us, recently did an incredible job with a complex, fully reported episode on reopening schools during the pandemic.

This year, we also hosted workshops for 200 teachers, added 36 new lesson plans and added dozens of blog posts by Dr. David Childs. We have 35,360 democracyandme.org users (+41% over FY19) and 344 followers on the newly launched Democracy & Me Twitter account.