MediaOne Group Inc.'s three-year-old "Cub
Reporters" student-journalism program got a vote of confidence when the White House
Office of National Drug Control Policy enlisted six teen-age reporters from several East
Coast MediaOne markets as part of a five-city anti-drug tour.
The 15- to 17-year-olds spent eight days on the bus tour,
traveling from Miami to Washington, D.C., and interviewing fellow teen-agers about their
attitudes on drug use.
From the taped interviews, MediaOne and the ONDCP will
produce a 30-minute documentary that will be aired on MediaOne's local-origination
channels and distributed to schools around the country.
Four of the six cub reporters had previously been involved
in the MediaOne student program, but "The majority of the cub reporters had never
really spoken to kids about those things," MediaOne spokesman Dave Wood said.
Although they had interviewed governors and other
politicians before, this was the first chance some had to get "down and dirty"
for a story, he added.
The ONDCP decided to use MediaOne's cub reporters for
the tour rather than professional journalists because its advisers decided that students
would be more willing to believe messages from kids talking to other kids, said Judi
Kosterman, assistant director of the ONDCP's media campaign.
She added that the youths being interviewed found it easier
to talk to the cub reporters. "The goal of the campaign is to get the facts to kids
in every way we can," Kosterman said.
At a press event in Washington, D.C., last Tuesday, the
ONDCP unveiled a two-minute teaser of images from the MediaOne cub reporters' tour.
The documentary is just one facet of an anti-drug campaign
the ONDCP unveiled last week.
"This year, we will see an unprecedented amount of
anti-drug messages in schools," Kosterman said.
The ONDCP will advertise in national scholastic
publications, school newspapers, satellite-fed school broadcasts on Channel One and even
on book covers, wall displays and basketball backboards. A Web site (www.straightscoop.org)
was created to give student journalists background for anti-drug stories.
The ONDCP is also partnering with Cable in the Classroom to
find programming with strong anti-drug messages and to develop educational resources to go
with it, Kosterman said.
Wood spent part of the tour traveling with the reporters to
drug-rehabilitation centers, malls, community centers and other places teen-agers tend to
hang out. He said the cub reporters heard stories from teen-age runaways and drug users
about things some of them had never been exposed to before.
Kosterman said MediaOne's Cub Reporters program could
be replicated either by the cable industry or at the high-school level -- wherever kids
learn journalism and technical skills.