DISCONNECTED: Politics, the Press and the Public
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Students Taking Action -- Miami, Florida
By Nadia Baksh
Student Discussion
With a moderator, students discuss affirmative action in a Fred Friendly Seminar setting.

Junior Joey Natoli feels both the government and the media do a poor job of getting teens interested in politics.

Natoli hoped his community service project held March 30 helped Panthers become aware of the conflicts and issues in the media as well as gave them the opportunity to discuss topics important to them. "I got the idea from the Fred Friendly Association, which is a corporation started by Fred Friendly that has yearly seminars on PBS to help educate the public," Natoli said.

Classes were invited to attend three discussion forums during first, second, third and fifth period where students were able to ask questions as well as learn more about affirmative action in Florida, abortion and capital punishment.

Student leaders introduced the subject matter to students in a brief presentation before the discussions. Then moderators introduced scenarios and panelists were to role-play figures faced with a problem. "Students are aware of matters, but not like they should be. They need to understand the importance of their choices, but they should not be forced to make their decisions. It has to be up to them," economics teacher Joel Soldinger said.

realmedia video clipDuring fifth period, students were able to learn more about Election 2000 from a panel of community leaders and media members including Metro-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson, Pinecrest Mayor Evelyn Greer, School Board members Demetrio Perez and Betsy Kaplan. Business law teacher James Beverley filled in for missing Commissioner Jimmy Morales who was out of town and could not make the seminar as originally planned.

"It was a terrific, creative, imaginative idea to do the seminars. I thought the set-up was good. Even before I was asked to participate I was impressed what was going on. I hope this to be an ongoing project," Beverley said. The last seminar had members of the local media including NBC Executive Director Don Brown, CBS-4 reporter Phil Lipof and Miami Herald Editorial Pages Editor Tom Fiedler.

"I read a lot about politics,but I only know most of the issues because of my grandparents. There is a need to have more events like this," senior Joey McCall said.

Earlier in the month senior Maxeme Tuchman, president of the National Organization of Women (NOW), invited Katy Sorenson and a member of the Miami Sol to come here and discuss issues affecting women. "In January, we did a survey and found out that many students do not know about affirmative action and abortion issues or even about sexual harassment," Tuchman said.

Reprinted with permission from the student newspaper "The Panther" at Miami Palmetto Senior High.

Read more about activities at CSPA member schools on the CSPA web site.

Students Taking Action -- Newton, Massachusetts
By Sara Krulewich
Students at seminar
A Fred Friendly Seminar with students from Newton, Massachusetts.

In Newton's most recent municipal elections, only 89 people aged 18 and 19 voted, city figures show.

To look at why young people don't vote, senior Joey Gudema moderated a panel of seven Friday in a program called "Campaign Issues: Young People, Politics, and the Press."

"An issue is the ethics of campaigning and reporting on a campaign," he said.

To the students in the audience, he said he hoped panelists' answers would clarify the modern political process and encourage students to vote when they are able to do so.

On the panel were senior Mike Boucher and history and social sciences teacher Kathryn Codd representing the public, and mayor David Cohen and Representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Kahn representing political points of view. Representing the press were English teacher Steve Bresnahan, who is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and Michael Rezendes, a Boston Globe staff member who covers the State House.

When Gudema asked about poor turnout among young voters, the mayor suggested that young people answer the question.

Boucher, who is a student co-chair of the Student Faculty Administrative Board, said politics "has become a joke" because of the scandals news media reports.

Codd said she talks with her students about current issues so that they will want to vote when they are 18.

Balser pointed out that during the 1960s just a small group of students was active, and most others stayed out of protests. She praised students here for their efforts against hatred and prejudice.

About the role of media in politics, Cohen said that it exerts most of its influence beyond the local level, and Kahn commented that the media should take into account that women in elected positions are an important block.

Bresnahan differentiated between straight news reporting and columnists' views.

Rezendes said presidential elections are so expensive that the Super Tuesday system almost automatically rules out candidates with less money.

According to Gudema, the presentation Friday was based on The Fred Friendly Seminars' program, DISCONNECTED: Politics, the Public and the Press.

Reprinted with permission from the Newton North High School "Newtonite."

Read more about activities at CSPA member schools on the CSPA web site.

Students Taking Action -- Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Students at Computer
Rachel Mont and Meredith Averill, editors of Pottsville student newspaper, check out the Fred Friendly Seminars web site, after attending the DISCONNECTED taping.
Three Pottsville Area High School, Pottsville, PA students had the opportunity to attend the taping of the Fred Friendly Seminar, DISCONNECTED: Politics, the Press and the Public. The taping took place January 10, 2000 in New York City.

When Pottsville Area High School reopens August 24, 2000, the Tide Lines newspaper staff will run a one month voter registration drive for eighteen-year-olds in Schuylkill County high schools. Newspaper staffs and student councils in each county school will be contacted and sent registration forms. The opening day issue of the newspaper will kick off the registration campaign.

A continuing feature in each fall issue of Tide Lines will highlight the presidential election campaign as well as local races. The staff's goal is to inform the student body in addition to providing a forum for student opinion on the election.

In October, a "roundtable" will be held to discuss the Fred Friendly Seminar topic: DISCONNECTED: Politics, the Press and the Public. Local representatives from the media, civic leaders, politicians, student government members, and teenage voters will be invited to participate. Clips from the Fred Friendly Seminar will open the session. The event will be videotaped and presented as a feature in the next edition of the newspaper.

Read more about activities at CSPA member schools on the CSPA web site.

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