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Students Get Heard! Your Guide to the CNN – YouTube Debates

For many years, one of the biggest challenges of presidential candidates has been trying to penetrate the youngest audience of the voting demographic. And where do you find the majority of these individuals? In college, of course! Being able to vote comes right around the time many teenagers graduate from high school.

It’s also right around the time they start buying cigarettes and partying out of control as the revelation that they are adults who have to fend for themselves looms before them. Because of the freedoms that are rewarded to the 18-year-old, they often put politics way on the backburner; we’re talking a commercial kitchen that works 500 person banquets here, and “who’s running for president” is in dry storage.

Now, because of the easily manipulated youth market, presidential hopefuls have always reached out to the younger generation but mostly failed to convert as many troops to the war that they hoped to. Recent commercial involvement has included events like MTV’s “Rock The Vote” tours to entice the kids to vote. The success of these attempts to make politics “cool” can be argued, but the fact of the matter is they’ve never taken the newly anointed voters seriously enough to warrant them a vote in return.

Why aren’t the youth voting? Because when you’re a freshman in college in a world that offers bias to those with or without a college degree, most underclassmen aren’t shown any respect about what they have to say about an issue.

They’re viewed as young mindless party animal zombies that couldn’t possibly make an educated decision about a subject. While some may make that statement true, there’s just as many who can think for themselves and tackle some of the problems that they before us. Many of them are also very capable of finding winning solutions, because of their ability to think outside the squabbling political atmosphere that burdens much of politics today.

Well, for the past few years, those quick to technology have been able to begin voicing their opinions. The power of the Internet to get your voices heard is here and the potential to have them heard is enormous. Never in history have the people had an opportunity to get in the faces of our politicians as they have now. Sure, many have been talking the good talk through blogs, forums, and podcasts, but to see the actual faces of the players is an important part of getting a message to stick. And with easy-to-upload video options through sites like YouTube, there’s no reason why we can’t own the show. And if you have been living in a cave all summer, then you’ve missed some of the much talked about political video showing up, some outlandishly produced with song and dance like the video below.

Some years ago, CNN and YouTube teamed up to bring us the “CNN/YouTube” debates. The contest rules are simple: create a short, 30-second commercial-style video where you comment on a current political situation. None other than CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (who has been at the frontier of involvement with younger generations as the world traveling anchor of student-news program Channel One) will be hosting each program.

Each video will feature someone asking a question for presidential candidates. Now, if you’re gonna get yer keister on YouTube, and possibly national television, you better be prepared, educated, and know what the hell you’re talking about. Creativity is key to being noticed; combined with the viral nature of the web, your chance to get seen and heard just about anywhere you turn means that you could either make something happen or complete ruin it for the rest of us. So put on your thinking caps and try to turn this opportunity into a great and powerful event.

Some of these videos have been elaborately produced, a nice way to get attention. However, it’s not necessary and with a little creativity you could bust out and prove to be popular. So go create that video. It’s not as much of rocket science as some of you think it is. If you don’t know how to upload a video yourself, learn how to or find a tech-savvy guy or gal and make it a team effort.

What you’ll need: a digital camcorder, A firewire cable (your computer should have a firewire port. Otherwise, things’ll get complicated. a free editing program (most newer computers have a Windows Video Maker program that’s super simple to use). Shoot it and get it on your computer, do editing if necessary, and go to YouTube and push upload.

Youtube’s guidelines for the project just involve your ability to be yourself and provide us with really good content. Some of these videos have already made the big screen and had an impact. The event begins with a Democratic debate first on July 23rd with the Republican debates heating up on September 17th. YouTube gives a window of 1 week to accept submissions’ expect a lot more in the fall as news of these debates spreads throughout traditional media outlets. Here is one of the first videos showcased on CNN:

So there you have it. The entire country has always cried about their inability to get their voices heard. With the YouTube “You Choose” mentality, and their political vlog CitizenTube, everyone has been given an opportunity, and the youth of the nation will benefit the most because of their ability to easily shoot and upload a video. If you’re a student currently partying it up summer-time style, take a few minutes to get your questions out there. Who knows, you could prove a good point that this Internet-powered election is the real deal, cause some debate and controversy, and land you the cool kid in class when school starts back up in the fall. And that will inspire others to do the same and express their own anger and rage against the machine. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and start a revolution!