Editorial: Student journalists should be credentialed for debates

Photo by Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS Donald Trump and and Hillary Clinton on stage during the second debate between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Donald Trump and and Hillary Clinton on stage during the second debate between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS

Millennials, defined as “adults between the ages of 18-35 in 2016,” now rival the Baby Boomer Generation as the biggest voting bloc by generation according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.

Baby Boomers number about 69.7 million of the electorate while Millennials number 69.2 million.

Assuming 18 year olds make up 1/17 of the 69.2 million (from 18 to 35 there are 17 years), it would be safe to assume that some 4,070,588 eligible voters of these 69.2 million are 18 year olds, which would include high school students.

However, as the older end of the generation ages, more members of the generation die, so it would make sense that more than 1/17 of the generation is 18 years old.

If several million Millennials who are eligible to vote are 18 years old, then about half of them would be high school students (based on traditional age cut off by month that students start school).

High schoolers, especially 18 year olds, need to be educated on the issues and receive coverage of the election in order to make informed decisions.

However, the Commission on Presidential Debates has stifled high school journalists under 18 years of age who wish to cover the debates for their voting-eligible peers.

Mike McCurry, Chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said via email, “University regulations, U.S. Secret Service requirements and other restrictions don’t allow us to credential minors.”

McCurry went on to say he would make an additional inquiry for minors seeking credentials. Despite his efforts, no credentials were provided for the three ECHO staff-members who applied for them.

Student journalists cover the news and bring a take on the issues to their fellow students that a 50-year-old journalist who hasn’t been in high school for 30 years simply can’t understand.
These students have grown up alongside other students and developed with them. They have exchanged ideas and developed political beliefs together.

Professional journalists cannot and do not have the same understanding of what matters to young people as young people themselves.

To deny several million eligible voters their right to be informed by journalists their own age is a travesty. Furthermore, the student journalists that want to cover the presidential debates are constantly seeking new information to cover the news as accurately as possible.

To deny them the right to cover the debate is also unfair to them.

 


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