The Monthly Interview

AM: We hope the Scoop 08 is going to be the first real national daily student newspaper in history. The timing is totally right, the technology is there, and with the election, the interest is there. For the first time students all across the country are really excited about this.

AM: We have an editorial board of twenty-five or so students from high schools and colleges across the country. Each of them is in charge of a little pod of about five to ten reporters. They direct their content, mentor them, and it works out to be not so unmanageable. You have about one story a day that each editor is working on, and then theres a blog aspect, too, in which you can post quick articles of fifty to 500 words. But the emphasis is on each reporter writing only two stories per month. The stories are edited, and then they go to the managing editor and copy editorsthere is a whole slew of people who are helping at that leveland it ultimately is posted on the Web site around midnight or shortly thereafter. We are going to create this nonprofit status so that hopefully we can accept donations from people who are interested in our vision. The revenue that we get will be reinvested in two thingsthe Web site, and allowing some of the reporters to travel and meet some of the candidates and be a part of the press corps just as an adult reporter would be.

AM: Well, this offers a really unique perspective. For example, we have a Palestinian high school student in the Deep South. I cant wait to see what she ends up writing when she covers Sam Brownback, for instance. And as volunteer students who dont need to be paid, we can cover candidates and issues that are unfortunately overlooked sometimes in the USA Todays of the country. For example, candidates like Sam Brownback rarely get on the front page even though they are fascinating people. Same with Duncan Hunter, the Prohibition Party, things like that.

AM: Thats actually the real reason were doing this. Ive talked to so many students all across the country, and there is this sense that the people who are giving them the news in the New York Times or on television are not thinking about them. Thats just the truth. I mean, I love the New York Times. But our approach is that readers are as much a part of the equation as the reporters. Well cover even the most obscure things, and we dont have an agenda. Combined with the fact that students are writing it, I think this will be a way to energize people and make them feel informed. Thats the reason that students dont always participatebecause they dont feel like they are part of the process, and they dont have a reason to, either.

AM: I have to deal with this every day as a politics reporter on the Yale Daily News, and the interest is really high. Youve got to attribute a lot of it to Obama. At our campus, for example, the Students for Obama group started up, and within a week it had 500 members. Thats unprecedented at Yale, where, believe it or not, people just arent that into the whole campaign thing. And the Republicans followed. Therere people already looking into starting groups for Giuliani. Theres such a change from the last two elections in terms of the personalities of the people who are running. You really feel that a good number of the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, are really in tune with what is going on in the world. They understand that there is this change going on, and students really appreciate that.

AM: Its just so disconnected. There is no real feeling that it matters at all. I dont even know what the feeling is in Washington among the media and adults. Among students, the feeling is that this just doesnt affect us.

AM: No, because on the editorial board the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is one to one. And then 60 percent of the editorial board is moderate or cannot fit into a box. They have views that go all over the place, because I dont think thats what our generation is about anymore. I think we are a generation that doesnt fit into that ideological model of left and right at all. ?

Markos Kounalakis

Markos Kounalakis, Ph.D. is a foreign affairs columnist for McClatchy News, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, and President and Publisher emeritus of the Washington Monthly.

Peter Laufer