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KUNM joins with America Amplified to ask listeners to help shape its election coverage

Nash Jones

The election season is underway, with the New Mexico primary on June 4 and the general election on November 5, and KUNM News wants to learn how best to serve you in the lead-up. We’ve launched an effort to hear what issues are most important to you, what questions you want us to ask candidates, and what information you still need to cast your ballot. The organization America Amplified is supporting us in reaching out to you to help shape our 2024 election coverage. Managing Editor Alisa Barba spoke with KUNM to help introduce you to the project.

ALISA BARBA: American Amplified is a Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded initiative to work with public media stations across the country, and help them better engage with the communities they serve. That's our broad goal. This year, we have launched an initiative that's specifically focused on the upcoming election with the mission of making sure that our communities have the information they need to confidently participate in the election.

KUNM: And KUNM is participating in that, along with stations all across the country. What exactly is that going to look like?

BARBA: There's kind of a two-pronged approach that we're working with stations to put in place. One is you will have a place on your website where your listening audience can go and submit questions about the election. And we have a team of people that will help KUNM answer those questions. So, that's one part of the engagement. The other part of it is you guys that KUNM have identified the fact that you want to be able to reach young voters who may or may not have all the information that they need to participate, and who you want to engage with more deeply as a station. We are helping you by coaching you and working with you to develop strategies to go out and meet young people, find out where are they getting their news, so that KUNM maybe do things a little bit differently to reach that audience.

KUNM: Yeah, and we are hosting three listening sessions — two in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe — hoping to understand how to better serve young people in our communities as the election comes up. Why is election coverage a place that public media stations like KUNM could really benefit from better engaging our communities?

BARBA: I kind of think of elections as a kind of Trojan horse because people are looking for information around election time. They want to know what they're voting for, what they're voting against, what's on the ballot. It is a time where communities are seeking information. And I think that public media is in a wonderful position to be able to provide that information to our communities. Public service is part of our mission. So, this is part of strengthening democracy, making sure that everybody understands why it's important to vote and how to vote.

KUNM: Some of our listeners may remember that KUNM participated in something pretty similar around the 2022 midterms with you all at America Amplified. What's different this time around?

BARBA: it's much bigger. Last time around, we worked with 30 public media stations across 25 states. This time, we are in every state across the country. Also, we're beginning much earlier. For the midterm election project, we began in maybe July and August before the November election. Here we are talking about this in February. You guys are launching this engagement now. So, the idea is not only to help your community in the lead up to the election, but also to build trust that will be of benefit to the station and the community over the long term. These are not relationships that you develop now, in 2024, just for the election. These are relationships we believe you will build on for years to come.

KUNM: No doubt. Well, and relationship building isn't something to rush, right? I mean, it doesn't work that way.

BARBA: Oh, no. And the whole idea here is to be building trust, as well, so that people know that they can come to you for the information they need, and that they can trust you to tell the stories that your community needs to hear and wants to hear.

KUNM: Well, for those who are listening to this and want to get involved, what should they look up for?

BARBA: A question prompt that will appear on your website that will be asking them, "What issues are the most important to you in the lead up to this upcoming election?" Or, "What questions do you have for the candidates?" KUNM wants to hear what is on your mind, what is of concern to you. And they want those answers to drive their coverage in 2024 so that they are not only providing you with the information you need, but also covering the issues that are important to your community.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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