The Midwest Democracy Project brings The Kansas City Star and NBC’s KMBC together with University of Kansas, Kansas State, University of Missouri, and the Reynolds Journalism Institute to look at how Kids Voting USA helps kids become better citizens.
The news media goes out to the high schools and puts together real media reports on how the schools incorporate voting practices and get teens involved with the electoral process.
The research looks at how the impact of increased attention from the media interacts with school curriculum to get kids engaged and interested in politics. The media will produce actual news stories on what the teens are doing to get involved and the stories will air on television, online, and in the newspaper. The researchers hope that will draw attention from the students and parents (who will be seeing themselves on TV and in the newspaper) to want to participate in the study, and eventually become more engaged citizens long-term.
Once the news pieces are completed and students have a chance to see themselves and their schools in the news, the researchers will send out a survey to students and parents to see what experiences the students have had at school, how much media coverage their school picked up, how interested they are in the elections, and if they are excited to be able to vote in the future.
“It’s really another step in our continued effort to understand how do we best build citizens,” said RJI research director Esther Thorson.
The researchers have three goals with this project. The first goal is to create a better understanding of how kids get involved. What is the best combination of school experience, home experience, and media experience to get student interested in becoming informed?
The second goal is to get students more interested in politics and create life-changing experiences.
Thirdly, the researchers are trying to find out if this is going to drive people to media. By giving students and their parents a reason to consume the news (because they will see themselves), will they become re-motivated to consume more news all the time?
Students are the future and by increasing their awareness and knowledge of politics and other important events, the researchers predict it will create more informed and engaged citizens in the future.