Local Journalism and the Citizens’ Agenda

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist

There are a plethora of resources for #CivicsInTheMIddle classrooms to teach about the upcoming presidential election. However, when it comes to local and state races, curating information for students to analyze can be more of a challenge. This is ironic because many of the issues young people and their communities at large care about are decided closer to home and not in the White House (see image below).

IllinoisCivics.org hosted reporters from WBEZ in Chicago to explore the role of local journalism in preparing voters for #Election2020. Political editor Alex Keefe, state politics reporter Dave McKinney, and investigative reporter Dan Mihalopoulos provided unique insights to educators on:
  • What races and issues WBEZ is covering this election cycle, and why
  • “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
  • WBEZ’s Citizens’ Agenda & audience engagement journalism
If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording to view and share with your students to understand how journalists prioritize what races to watch, what journalists talk about when they discuss “fake news,” and WBEZ’s Citizens’ Agenda that engages community voices to discern what issues to cover in the 2020 election and beyond. WBEZ also published an Elections 2020 page that includes:
  • Featured Stories for Elections 2020 and Citizen’s Agenda
  • Field Guides and Explainers
  • Latest Election Updates from WBEZ and NPR
  • Voter Resources
  • Live results on election night and beyond
We asked one of our Civics Instructional Coaches, Heather Monson, from East Moline to share resources she uses to engage students with local journalism and politics during the election season. Here are her suggestions featured in our Election 2020 Toolkit: What are you doing to engage your students in local journalism to prepare for the 2020 elections and beyond? Please comment below. Together, we can prepare ALL students for college, career, and civic life in traditions, hybrid and remote classrooms.


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