News21

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New21 is a program formed by the Carnegie Corporation and the John S. and James L. Knight foundation that is aimed at changing the way journalism is taught and to train a new group of journalists to help reshape the news industry. It’s headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and has trained 500 top journalism students since 2006, with their work appearing in major national publications. Christina Leonard, an editor in News21, will tell us more about the project.

TED SIMONS: NEWS-21 IS A PROGRAM AIMED AT RESHAPING THE NEWS INDUSTRY BY CHANGING THE WAY JOURNALISM IS TAUGHT. THE PROGRAM WAS FORMED BY THE CARNEGIE CORPORATION AND THE JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION AND IS HEADQUARTERED AT THE ASU'S CRONKITE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION. AN EXAMPLE OF NEWS-21 WORK IT'S A RECENT FOCUS ON NATIVE AMERICAN VOTING RIGHTS AND HOW VOTING BY MAIL ONLY IMPACTED THE NAVAJO NATION.

PACKAGE: THERE'S BEEN LONG-STANDING HISTORICAL BARRIERS TO -- TO NATIVE AMERICANS HAVING ACCESS TO VOTE.

PACKAGE: I GUESS WE'RE GOOD FOR THE ROMANIZES SIDE OF THE VERSION NATIVE AMERICAN. THE HAIR FLOWING. NOT LIKE THIS. YOU KNOW, NOT AS A VOTER.

PACKAGE: EVERYBODY WHO IS AGE 18 OR BEYOND SHOULD BE ABLE TO VOTE. WE'VE FOUGHT FOR THIS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. WHAT WE CAN'T DO THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS WE'RE WILLING TO DO THROUGH LITIGATION. ¶¶ ¶¶

PACKAGE: THE COUNTY DECIDED TO GO MAIL-IN BALLOT. MY FIRST REACTION WAS WHAT ABOUT THOSE PEOPLE WHO DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH? WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE PEOPLE? HOW ARE THEY GOING TO CAST THEIR VOTE? WHO IS GOING TO HELP THEM? SOME OF THE NAVAJO WHO IS DO NOT READ OR SPEAK ENGLISH PROBABLY WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO VOTE.

PACKAGE: IT'S THE OLDER ELDERS THAT COME OUT AND VOTE AND MOST OF THEM DON'T HAVE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. SO YOU NEED TO HAVE THEM HAVE A TRANSLATOR AND TRANSLATING A BALLOT TO SOMEONE, IT'S PRETTY TOUGH. NOW WE HAVE MAIL-IN AND THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFICULTIES WITH THE MAIL-INS. I BELIEVE, AND DUE TO A LOT OF TIMES THAT MAIL IS LATE OR WE SEND A -- THE BALLOT BACK, EITHER A DAY LATE OR A COUPLE DAYS LATE AND THEY DON'T ACCEPT THOSE. I BELIEVE AS A VETERAN, THAT YOU FOUGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY AND YOU FOUGHT FOR YOUR PEOPLE, AND THOSE PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY TO GO OUT AND VOTE.
PACKAGE: WE'RE THE SAME PEOPLE. WE SHOULD HAVE EQUAL ACCESS TO VOTING.

TED SIMONS: AND HERE NOW TO TELL US MORE ABOUT NEWS-21 IS CHRISTINA LEONARD THE FORMER INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR WHO IS NOW A NEWS-21 INSTRUCTOR. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

TED SIMONS: THIS WAS AN INTERESTING PIECE. NATIVE AMERICAN VOTING RIGHTS. DO THE AMERICAN INDIANS FEEL LEFT OUT OF THE VOTING PROCESS?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: A LOT OF TIMES YES THEY DO, VERY MUCH SO.

TED SIMONS: WHAT WERE THEY TELLING YOUR JOURNALISM STUDENTS AND YOUR REPORTERS OUT THERE, A BEAUTIFUL PIECE, BY THE WAY. REMARKABLY DONE.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: WHAT WERE YOU HEARING OUT THERE?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: WE HEARD A LOT OF STORY, A LOT HAD TO DO WITH LANGUAGE ISSUES. THE BALLOTS NOT BEING TRANSLATED. A LOT HAD TO DO WITH DISTANCE ISSUES, ESPECIALLY ON RESERVATIONS, WERE FOKES LIVE IN VERY RURAL AREAS AND WHEN YOU TAKE AWAY A POLLING PLACE ON A RESERVATION OR YOU ONLY DO LIKE IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, MAIL-IN VOTING, THEY HAVE TO DRIVE MILES AND MILES AND MILES AND IT TAKES IN SOME INSTANCES 10 HOURS TO GET TO THE POLLING PLACE TO CAST THEIR VOTE.

TED SIMONS: WHY WAS THAT DECISION MADE, FOR MAIL ONLY?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: WELL THE BELIEVE AT LEAST IN SUNMOUNT COUNTY THAT IT WOULD INCREASE VOTING.

TED SIMONS: THE OPPOSITE APPARENTLY HAS OCCURRED?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: IT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS, YES.

TED SIMONS: WHY WOULD THE NUMBERS GIVE DIFFERENT STORIES?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: IN THE LAWSUIT, IF YOU LOOK AT IT, THE NUMBERS THEY POLLED, THEY WERE COMPARING, IF I CAN REMEMBER THIS CORRECTLY, PRIMARY ELECTIONS, BUT AS YOU KNOW, PRIMARY ELECTIONS NOT EVERYBODY VOTES, SO THEY DIDN'T LOOK AT THE GENERAL ELECTIONS AND THEY WERE ONLY LOOKING AT NUMBERS IN CERTAIN PRECINCTS WHICH WEREN'T NECESSARILY ALL THE PRECINCTS THAT WERE ON THE NAVAJO RESERVATION.

TED SIMONS: DIFFERENT GENERATIONS, ARE THEY LOOKING AT THESE KIND OF ISSUES, VOTING IN PARTICULAR? DIFFERENT GENERATIONS LOOKING AT THEM DIFFERENTLY.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: ABSOLUTELY, ARE YOU SPEAKING OF JUST NATIVE AMERICANS?

TED SIMONS: YES.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: ABSOLUTELY. I DO THINK THERE'S BEEN SOME RESEARCH THAT SHOWS NATIVE AMERICAN VOTING OVERALL HAS INCREASED AND A LOT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT TECHNOLOGY HAS IMPROVED AND COMMUNICATION HAS IMPROVED AND THE YOUNGER VOTERS MAY OR MAY NOT FEEL THEY HAVE MORE OF A VOICE. BUT IN THE PIECE THERE, YOU SAW A LOT OF THE STRUGGLE WITH ENGLISH AND JUST GETTING OUT THERE.

TED SIMONS: GETTING OUT THERE AND THE LANGUAGE AND PROXIMITY, A FACTOR THERE. BUT AGAIN, DO THE OLDER FOLKS, DO THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE? IS THERE A BIT OF A DEFEATIST ATTITUDE? I KNOW THE CULTURAL IMPACT WAS TALKED ABOUT IN THE PIECE AS WELL.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: SURE.

TED SIMONS: TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: DO YOU THINK A LOT OF THE TROUBLED MEMBERS WE SPOKE TO FELT THEY WANTED TO VOTE, THEY WANTED THEIR VOICE TO BE HEARD AND DIDN'T ALWAYS HAVE THE ACCESS TO THAT. YOU KNOW, GETTING TO THE MAILBOX IS HARD. GETTING INFORMATION WAS DIFFICULT. BUT I DON'T THINK WE RAN ACROSS MANY PEOPLE WHO SAID, NO, WE DON'T WANT TO VOTE. WE DON'T THINK IT'S OUR DUTY, WE DON'T THINK IS OUR OUR RIGHT.

TED SIMONS: ENCOURAGING THERE. YOU MENTIONED LAWSUITS. THEY MENTIONED LAWSUITS IN THE PACKAGE. HOW OFTEN DO HAVE THE TRIBES HAVE TO RESORT TO LEGAL ACTION?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: QUITE A FEW, QUITE A FEW TIMES. I THINK IN THIS STORY WE SAY THERE BEEN ABOUT A HALF A DOZEN SINCE THE RECENT SHELBY COUNTY DECISION.

TED SIMONS: IS THAT SOMETHING THAT IS IN THE INCREASE? IS THAT SOMETHING THE TRIBES FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE DOING?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: I DON'T KNOW IF THEY FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE BUT I BELIEVE THAT IS THE BEST RECOURSE FOR THEM.

TED SIMONS: THERE WAS A PART OF THE PIECE WHERE A WOMAN WAS MENTIONING SHE TELLS PEOPLE IN THE TRIBE, WE USED TO HAVE BUFFALO AND THAT WAS US, THE BUFFALO IS NOW GONE AND SHE SAYS OUR VOTE IS NOW OUR BUFFALO. THAT'S A POWERFUL STATEMENT.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: YEAH, UH-HUH.

TED SIMONS: AND YOU HEARD MORE OF THOSE KIND OF THINGS.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: ABSOLUTELY, YOU KNOW, IT'S REALLY INTERESTING WHEN YOU GO BACK AND LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF THE NATIVE AMERICAN VOTE, JUST UNTIL RECENTLY, THERE WERE -- NEW MEXICO WAS THE LAST STATE IN THE COUNTRY TO ALLOW VOTING AND ALLOW NATIVE AMERICANS TO HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE AND THAT WAS IN THE 1970, WHICH IS PRETTY -- THAT'S NOT TOO LONG AGO.

TED SIMONS: IN THE PACKAGE, YOU FOUND -- SOUTH DAKOTA WAS MENTIONED IN THE PACKAGE AS WELL AND OTHER PLACES AROUND THE COUNTRY. DIFFERENT STATES LOOK AT AMERICAN INDIAN VOTING RIGHTS DIFFERENTLY?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: SURE, ABSOLUTELY. EVEN WITHIN LOCAL JURISDICTIONS THEY TREAT IT DIFFERENT TOO. THERE WAS A RECENT CASE IN ARIZONA WHERE THEY -- THEY JUST RECENTLY SUED FOR ACCESS TO VOTING AS WELL. HOWEVER, THAT WAS IN MOSTLY MARICOPA COUNTY. WE SENT A TEAM UP TO THE GRAND CANYON WHERE IN COCONINO COUNTY, THEY HAVE -- I DON'T KNOW, I'M NOT SURE IF HE'S AN ELECTION VOLUNTEER OR WORKER, WHO HIKES DOWN TO THE BOTTOM THE CANYON TO DO VOTING FOR THE SUPA TRIBE THERE AND HIKES ALL THE WAY BACK. THAT'S A COMMITMENT TO MAKING SURE THOSE FOLKS CAN VOTE.

TED SIMONS: DID YOU TOUCH MUCH ON THE IDEA OF NON-NATIVE VIEWS OF AMERICAN INDIANS. DID YOU GET AROUND TO THAT OR MOSTLY FROM THEIR SIDE.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: MOSTLY FROM THEIR SIDE. WHEN WE TALKED TO SOME OF THE DEFENDANTS IN THE LAWSUITS, SOME ARE VERY UNDERSTANDING AND FELT IT WAS NECESSARY TO MAKE SURE THAT NATIVE AMERICANS DID HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND GIVING THEM ACCESS. THERE WERE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE WHO MADE COMMENTS THAT DIDN'T -- WE DIDN'T MAKE IT INTO THE STORY, BUT MADE COMMENTS ABOUT, WELL, IF THEY PAID TAXES MAYBE THIS WOULD BE A DIFFERENT STORY.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: WHICH, OBVIOUSLY, ANGERS A LOT OF PEOPLE.

TED SIMONS: I IMAGINE SO. NEWS-21, THIS WAS DONE BY A GROUP OF JOURNALISM STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS. WHAT IS NEWS-21?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: NEWS-21 IT'S A AMAZING PROJECT HOUSED AT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. WE GUEST SOME OF THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST YOUNG JOURNALISTS IN THE COUNTRY WHO REPORT ON A TOPIC IN DEPTH EVERY YEAR, THIS YEAR WE CHOSE VOTING RIGHTS BUT PREVIOUS YEARS WE'VE DONE MARIJUANA AND GUN RIGHTS AND A LOT OF DIFFERENT TOPICS, A LOT OF DIFFERENT TOPICS AND GREAT WORK.

TED SIMONS: I KNOW THE IDEA IS TO CHANGE THE WAY JOURNALISM IS TAUGHT. HOW IS TEACHING BY WAY OF NEWS-21 DIFFERENT?

CHRISTINA LEONARD: HOW IS IT DIFFERENT? FIRST WE HAVE THEY HAVE TO GO THROUGH A SEMINAR. IN THE SPRING THEY DO A SEMINAR THAT'S LED BY LEN DOWNEY JUNIOR AND JACKIE PETCHEL AND THEY LEARN THE BASICS OF INVESTIGATING REPORTING. THEY GO AND FIGURE OUT OK WHATS THE TOPIC, HOW DO WE GET INTO THIS. BUT A LOT IS ABOUT THE PRESENTATION OF IT. IF YOU GO TO OUR SITE, YOU'LL SEE IT'S NOT JUST WORDS AND PITCH PICTURES, WE DO POWERFUL U POWERFUL VIDEOS AND TRY TO PRESENT THE INFORMATION IN A DIFFERENT WAY. ONE EXAMPLE IS WE DID A STORY ABOUT THE MILLENNIALS AND THIS VOTING GENERATION AND THOUGHT ABOUT MILLENNIALS AND THEIR VOTING, THEY'RE READING HABITS. THEY'RE NOT LIKELY TO READ A 3 THOUSAND WORD STORY IN ONE SITTING SO WE BROKE THAT UP IN CHUNKS AND PRESENTED IT SO THEY MIGHT LOOK AT IT ON A SMARTPHONE.

TED SIMONS: TEACHING STUDENTS TO REALIZE THAT REACHING AN AUDIENCE CHANGES.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: SURE, ABSOLUTELY.

TED SIMONS: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE PIECE AND CONGRATULATIONS ON NEWS-21. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

CHRISTINA LEONARD: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

TED SIMONS: TUESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," THE LATEST ON A SUSPECTED RUSSIAN HACKER HITTING ARIZONA VOTER REGISTRATION DATABASES AND THE NEW RULES ON THE USE OF COMMERCIAL DRONES. THAT'S NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON." THAT'S IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING! CLOSED CAPTION PRODUCTIONS WWW.CCPRODUCTIONS.COM 844-335-0911

Christina Leonard

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