As November 2, 2004, approached, the mainstream media reported that the youth vote might swing the elections. Teens at youth media organizations devoted considerable energy to helping lure their peers to the polls and informing them about the issues at hand.
In Minnesota, two of Phillips Community Television’s Youth Media hip-hop artists—Chris “Shakademic” Johnson, 18, and Glenn Scott, 19—collaborated with adult producers to create a political documentary that got teens talking about the election. In it, Shakademic teaches the real Walter Mondale how to scratch a record with headphones pressed against an ear. According to The Star Tribune, when the thirty-minute documentary made its debut on Twin Cities Public Television Channel 2, it scored the second highest ratings of any show that night. Johnson and Scott also distributed copies of the show to local high schools. New Youth Connections (published by Youth Communication), the magazine written by New York City teens and distributed to approximately 60,000 students in the city’s public high schools ran a special pre-election issue featuring an interview with a young soldier in Iraq who was beginning to question the war, as well as interviews with teen GOP protesters and young Republicans. In that issue teens also ruminated on whether inmates and 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote, and why a woman has never been nominated for president.
The cable-access Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s Youth Channel broadcast a spirited panel of teen activists debating issues like whether the Republican convention should have been held in New York, what would happen if there was a draft, and how the government should respond to AIDS abroad.
Even Newsweek partook in youth-made media, running a regular section about young people’s perspectives on the elections presented not through the usual lens of an adult reporter, but written directly by young people.