by Max Brantley
December 20, 2007 – New York, NY – MTV, as part of its Emmy-winning “Choose or Lose” campaign (www.ChooseorLose.com), today unveiled “Street Team ’08”: a specially recruited group of 51 citizen journalists – one from every state and Washington, D.C. – who will cover the 2008 elections from a youth perspective and tailor their reports for mobile devices. The members will contribute weekly, multi-media reports (short form videos, blogs, animation, photos, podcasts) that will be distributed via a soon-to-launch WAP site, MTV Mobile, Think.MTV.com and to the more than 1,800 sites in the Associated Press Online Video Network. Carefully selected by MTV after an extensive nationwide search, the one-of-a-kind press corps will be armed with mobile media like laptops, video cameras and cell phones, and charged with uncovering the untold political stories that matter most to young people in their respective states.
“Street Team ‘08” members represent every aspect of today’s youth audience – from seasoned student newspaper journalists to documentary filmmakers, the children of once-illegal immigrants to community organizers. They are conservative, liberal, from big cities and small towns. The tie that binds them all is a passion for politics and a yearning to amplify the youth voice during this pivotal election. All of the “Street Team ’08” correspondents will begin reporting early next month, after an intensive MTV News orientation in New York City.
“Recent MTV research shows young people believe their generation will be a major force in determining who is elected in the upcoming local and national elections,” said Ian Rowe, VP of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnership, MTV, “and Street Team ’08 will be a key way for our audience to connect with peers, as well as get informed and engaged on the local and political issues that matter to them most. We’re proud to join with the Knight Foundation on this innovative experiment – which will also explore how coverage of youth-centric election issues can be an effective pathway to increased youth voter turnout and greater political and civic engagement.”
The “Street Team ’08” program is made possible by a $700,000 Knight News Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight News Challenge, at www.newschallenge.org, is an annual worldwide competition awarding $5 million for innovative ideas that use digital media to inform and inspire communities. The Knight Foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the search for bold community news experiments.
“We hope to find out whether or not our most important political event – the election of a president – matters to young people, and whether or not if matters more when it comes to them through the lens of their issues and the screen of their cell phone,” said Eric Newton, VP/Journalism, Knight Foundation. “We also hope to find out what important youth issues are being overlooked by traditional media as the Street Team coverage goes beyond the presidential horse race.”
In addition to laptops and video cameras, each “Street Team” member will be equipped with best-in-breed tools that will aid in their reporting. Adobe Systems Incorporated is the exclusive software partner for the program, and as part of its Adobe Youth Voices global philanthropy program fostering youth self-expression, the company is outfitting each “Street Team” member with a copy of the Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 Production Premium package – a complete post-production solution, integrating Adobe's all-new video, audio and design tools. PNY Technologies, a leading supplier of memory modules, flash media, USB drives, graphic cards and other peripherals, and the official flash memory provider of MTV's Street Team '08, is donating high-end SD cards and USB flash drives for all of the correspondents.
A collaboration with the Associated Press will bring select “Street Team ‘08” reports to AP's Online Video Network, which encompasses more than 1,800 media sites with an aggregate reach of 61 million unique visitors. “AP is constantly adding to its already comprehensive coverage of the 2008 political campaign and this collaborative project fits in with our goal of providing an even wider range of multimedia content,” said Executive Producer for Online Video Kevin Roach.
All 51 of the “Street Team” members have active profiles on Think.MTV.com – MTV’s online community where young people, their friends and some of the biggest names in pop culture come together to bring about positive social change. The Think community, a dedicated WAP site, video services from the industry-leading carriers in the MTV Mobile family and the Associated Press’ Online Video Network will be the primary platforms for the correspondents’ reports. Select stories will also be showcased on other MTV platforms, including MTV, broadcast to 88 million subscribers domestically, MTV2, mtvU and MTV Tr3́s.
The Think Community (Think.MTV.com) is dynamic, multimedia-driven and enables youth to easily learn more about the issues that matter to them most, share their opinions – via uploaded online videos, podcasts and blogs – and connect with others to make a difference. The site is one of the only to reward members for positive actions taken online or off, serving up chances to hang out with socially conscious celebs, access to exclusive MTV events, exposure on MTV and other national media outlets, as well as grants, scholarships and more. Think.MTV.com was built with the help of financial support and expertise from founding partners the Case Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldhirsh Foundation and MCJ Amelior Foundation. For more information or to build a profile and become involved, visit Think.MTV.com.