Friday, November 02, 2007

Student journalists offer scoop on '08 election

Has a presidential election ever captivated young voters the way this one has? Have student journalists ever had so many ways to report and publish?

Bringing these two currents together is a group of student journalists who are creating Scoop08, a national online student newspaper focusing on the 2008 presidential campaign. The site is scheduled to launch Sunday, exactly one year before the election.

“We’re creating a national forum for students to participate from a journalistic perspective in this exciting 2008 election,” says Andrew Mangino, the 20-year-old editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News and cofounder of Scoop08. His partner in political journalism is Alexander Heffner, a high school senior at Phillips Academy, where he is general manager of WPAA, the academy's radio station, and the host of The Political Arena, a political and public affairs radio program.

“This is the first national student newspaper,” Mangino says. “The Internet presents so many new possibilities. Why does a student newspaper have to stop at the school gates?”

The two met in 2006 when they were interning for Hillary Clinton’s New York senatorial campaign. But Mangino, who is registered as an independent (at 17, Heffner is too young to vote), insists they’re not biased. “We are both openminded. If my mind was made up I couldn’t do this project. I plan to be pretty undecided until Nov. 4, 2008 at noon or so when I got to the polls to vote.”

The pair has already assembled a network of more than 300 high school and college student journalists from around the country to contribute to the site “and that number is growing by the hour,” Mangino says. The site even has some foreign correspondents, mostly American students studying abroad in places like South Korea, Egypt, Chile and the United Kingdom. Some foreign students have also asked to participate.

Content will be edited by a team of student journalists from Yale, Ohio University, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, the University of Maine, Oberlin College and other schools.

Even before its launch the site is getting some buzz. It’s been written up by the BBC, Editor and Publisher, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Some of the attention may come from Scoop08's star-studded advisory board, which includes politicians (Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, former presidential candidate and Colorado Sen. Gary Hart and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson) and journalists (Judy Woodruff of PBS, New York Times columnist Frank Rich and Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter).

How did a couple of students persuade so many hotshots to get involved? “We got them the same way we got students excited: by stating the idea,” Mangino says. “This is a logical thing that has to be done. By presenting the message in an e-mail or phone call, people get excited about the idea.”

Mangino says the high-powered advisory board will help ensure that the site maintains a high caliber of reporting. “This is not a blog with random rants,” he says. “This will be professional, unbiased reporting on interesting topics and then commentary that’s separate from that.”

Asked how he balances his responsibilities as editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News and co-founder of Scoop08 on top of his school work, Mangino replies: "A lot of all-nighters. It's totally worth it, though. Anytime I get tired I just think to myself there's no other year this is going to happen. This 2008 election is generating so much excitement. That's how I motivate myself and others on the project."

Scoop08 is looking for students to contribute audio, video, photo and text reports on all aspects of the election, as well as thoughtful commentary pieces. To get involved, simply fill out this form.

Watch the Scoop08 trailer.

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