MTV Launching Citizen Journo Initiative

MTV, as part of their “Choose or Lose” campaign, is launching “Street Team ’08”, a citizen journalism initiative, in conjunction with the Associated Press and the Knight Foundation.

The program recruited 51 citizen journalists from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, each of whom will cover the 2008 election from their perspectives as representatives of their state, and as young journalists. MTV deliberately recruited participants from very different backgrounds, from cities to small towns, liberals, conservatives, student newspaper journalists, filmmakers and community organizers, among others.

 Each of the participants will contribute weekly material, in the form of blogs, photos and video reports, to MTV’s Web site and MTV Mobile. In addition, some of the reports will be distributed by the AP to their partners in the AP Video Network, totaling more than 1,800 sites.

“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 in a statement. “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 Knight Foundation made a $700,000 grant toward the project, as part of the Knight News Challenge, which donates $5 million a year towards digital media and journalism initiatives.

Each of the participating journalists will receive a laptop and video camera, as well as additional software and hardware for their use during the project. MTV News will hold an orientation in New York to train the participants.

Street Team ’08 members will begin reporting in early January from their respective states just in time for the primaries, and will continue through the general election in November.