Why don’t young people vote? Teen journalists investigate

Full Collection: Videos are available on SRL’s youth vote series website here.

Teen reporters from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) reveal the issues that matter most to young voters in the new series, Turning Out: The Youth Vote. From Miami, Florida to Fort Payne, Alabama, student journalists from SRL’s national network of 135 schools conducted more than 300 interviews to explore the impact of the youth vote. The series reflects the emerging youth voice that has moved front and center in national conversations around issues such as education, school safety and national priorities, and has the potential to influence voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections.

With only 17% of 18-to-24-year-old voters turning out in the last midterm election, teen journalists from SRL’s network tackled topics like low voter engagement, today’s political climate among young Democrats and Republicans, and the increased number of women running for office this year.

“We hear about the youth vote every election, but it’s usually adult news producers or pundits parachuting in,” says Leah Clapman, SRL Managing Editor. “High school broadcast programs can tackle important topics like who votes and why. It’s part of the NewsHour’s unique approach to issues that affect young people and their families, and SRL’s civics education mission.”

Students were able to interview candidates on all sides such as Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and his Republican opponent Corey Stewart. They joined a press pool following Senate candidate Beto O’ Rourke at a campaign stop in Texas; and interviewed influential youth activists from organizations like NextGen and Vote16USA.

“The whole experience has really opened up my eyes to a side of politics that I never knew about, as well as really emphasizing the importance of voting,” said Morgan Fisher, an SRL student at Dominion High School who interviewed Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart.

“It is amazing for our students to play a crucial role in informing the voting public about the voting choices that lie before them in the significant race here in Virginia for the United State Senate, and the Dominion High School Broadcast Program and PBS Student Reporting Labs provides a robust platform from which our students are empowered to make meaningful contributions to the world,” said Monika Vereb, Assistant Principal at Dominion High School.

In the days leading up to Election Day, follow SRL on social media and NewsHour’s platforms. 

Featured Labs:

Brighton High School-Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Communication Arts High School-San Antonio, TX

Judge Memorial Catholic High School-Salt Lake City, Utah

Pflugerville High School-Pflugerville, Texas

Smoky Mountain Youth Media-Knoxville, TN

Aragon High School-San Mateo, California

Cedar Crest High School-Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School-Lake Balboa, California

Dominion High School-Sterling, Virginia

Escondido High School-Escondido, California

Etiwanda High School-Rancho Cucamonga, California

Forestview High School-Gastonia, North Carolina

Fort Mill High School-Fort Mill, South Carolina

Franklin Learning Center-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Frederick Douglass High School-Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Hallie Wells Middle School-Clarksburg, Maryland

John F. Kennedy High School-Silver Spring, Maryland

Legacy Early College High School-Greenville, South Carolina

Lewis and Clark Middle School-Omaha, Nebraska

Mid-Maine Technical Center-Waterville, Maine

Northview High School-Covina, California

Oakland Military Institute-Oakland, California

Ontario High School-Ontario, California

Social Justice Humanitas Academy-San Fernando, California

Surrattsville High School-Clinton, Maryland

West Ranch High School-West Ranch High School

Westview High School-San Diego, California

Abingdon-Avon High School-Abingdon, Illinois

Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School-Miami, Florida

Black River Falls High School-Black River Falls, Wisconsin

Blackstone Millville Regional High School-Blackstone, Massachusetts

Brodhead High School-Brodhead, Wisconsin

Clinton High School-Clinton, Arkansas

Desert Pines High School-Las Vegas, Nevada

Jackson Creek Middle School-Bloomington, Indiana

Madison High School-Rexburg, Idaho

Maui High School-Kahului, Hawaii

Miami Country Day School-Miami, Florida

Omaha North Magnet High School-Omaha, Nebraska

Pine Crest School-Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Santa Fe High School-Edmond, Oklahoma

West Roxbury Academy-Boston, Massachusetts

Hall High School-Little Rock, Arkansas

Station support for this project provided by:

KUED; KLRU; UEN; East Tennessee PBS; KQED; PBS SoCal; WETA; KPBS

SCETV; WHYY; AETN; WGBH; OETA-Oklahoma; South Florida PBS; NET

PBS Hawaii; WTIU; Vegas PBS; Wisconsin Public Television; and Maine Public Broadcasting

About Student Reporting Labs

Student Reporting Labs provides middle and high schools with a unique video journalism curriculum, teacher professional development, mentorship and relationships with local public media stations to produce original stories that explore how critical national issues impact communities around the country. Visit PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Major support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award.

About PBS NewsHour                                                                                  

PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned nonprofit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at pbs.org/newshour. On social media, visit NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

Media Contacts

Leah Clapman, Managing Editor, Student Reporting Labs: lclapman@newshour.org

Elis Estrada, Director, Student Reporting Labs: eestrada@newshour.org