GroundTruth sets out to cover voting rights around the midterms

The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit media organization supporting the next generation of reporters, is working with Google News Initiative and Society of Professional Journalists to build teams of university students who will be out “ground truthing the midterms” by covering local polling places and tracking claims of voter disenfranchisement in Tuesday’s midterm election.

GroundTruth, which is based at WGBH in Boston, has recruited approximately 60 student reporters from 25 journalism programs at colleges and universities representing 16 states across the country. The student reporters have received professional training and mentorship from GroundTruth and the Society of Professional Journalists.

On Tuesday they will deploy to conduct on-the-ground interviews near polling stations with the goal of documenting reactions to a concerted effort in several states to foster voter suppression designed to thwart citizens, particularly from poor and disenfranchised communities, from casting their ballots. GroundTruth has committed extra resources to covering Georgia, North Dakota and Florida, but we will have reporters from a dozen other states including Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas and California.

“GroundTruth believes deeply in the value of good-old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting and this is very much the spirit of what we will doing on Election Day, getting out and telling the story by being there,” said Kevin Grant, GroundTruth’s Executive Editor.

The student reporters will be posting video clips on YouTube, filing short, written dispatches from the field and posting on social media. Their work  across these platforms will be curated by GroundTruth on throughout election day. Follow the conversation in social media with the hashtag #GTthemidterms.

“Civil rights organizations are sounding the alarms in many places across the country about attempts at voter suppression,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief. “And we need more reporting on the ground in these states to assess what is really happening and to document any effort to undermine our democracy.”

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 13 states have introduced or tightened restrictive voter ID laws, 11 have laws making it harder for citizens to register, seven have cut back on early voting opportunities and three moved to make it more difficult to restore voting rights for people with criminal convictions.

Sennott added, “We see our efforts on Tuesday as just the beginning of a movement to draw emerging journalists and student reporters into action, to go out and report on elections and document any and all attempts to thwart voters from exercising their right to vote. We hope you will follow our reporting on election day and join us in supporting our efforts for more on-the-ground coverage of voting rights across the country as we head toward the 2020 election.”

University-affiliated students will receive $100 to support Election Night gatherings at their student publications (pizza, soda, etc.), and will become eligible to apply for a $2,500 reporting fellowship from GroundTruth to report on voting rights and challenges to America’s democracy. The registration for student reporters to work with us on Election Day is now closed, and the call for applications to the GroundTruth reporting fellowships will be announced after the election.

Questions or news tips? Contact GroundTruth’s Executive Editor Kevin Grant at [email protected]