WHRO talks politics with students

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October 7, 2008

2:00 AM

Yesterday on the Sadler Center Terrace, WHRO — the Norfolk PBS affiliate — interviewed several College of William and Mary students about issues concerning America’s youth. Some students were pre-selected, while others were interviewed on the spot.

Kelly Jackson is the director of the Center for Regional Citizenship, which has launched the “Be There, Be Counted” campaign. Jackson decided to spend a $25,000 grant from PBS to “encourage young people [to strive] for more active political participation.”

“It will be a success if it gets young people active and engaged,” Jackson said.

Jackson decided to apply the PBS grant to help “start preparing young people so they will be engaged in the future and because there is so much enthusiasm among youth for this election [that] will continue post-election.”

As director of the CRC, an outreach component of WHRO television, Jackson gives young citizens the tools needed to become active citizens through the campaign’s website, betherebecounted.org.

The ultimate goal of the CRC is to bring together citizens from the Hampton Roads area to discuss issues that can be addressed in traditional political divisions and come up with solutions to better the local and regional corporations, said Jackson.

The WHRO advisory board, which includes Kira Allmann ’10 and Dan Byler ’09, selected questions for each College student regarding the importance of political participation, contemporary political issues, the current state of the government, the media and culture.

Most students answered that they receive their news online, that tuition and universal health care are important issues facing the country today, and that they believe in political participation.

“We are at a critical crossroads and are facing a new era,” Allmann said to the camera. “As a participatory member democracy, we all have a stake in the process and so care about the outcome.”

Jackson is taking “Be There, Be Counted” through Hampton Roads and is taping interviews at four other regional colleges and various high schools, including Old Dominion University and Christopher Newport University.

The segment will air on WHRO, channel 15, from two weeks before the election on Nov. 4 through Inauguration Day in January.

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