Media educators: Prepare for election season with this free curriculum

In 2024, the world will experience the biggest election year in history — and a crucial period for democracy in the United States and beyond

Jane Elizabeth
3 min readMar 22, 2024

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It’s an important and daunting time to be a media educator or student. A free curriculum supported by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University can help promote a deeper understanding of the intersection of journalism and democracy.

The Democracy Infusion Project was piloted and tested by media instructors at universities around the country during the fall semester of 2023. We’ve updated the curriculum based on their feedback, and we’re again inviting all journalism educators to use the free, easy-to-access resources in their classrooms.

The project is designed to be relevant to any journalism course — sports writing, ethics, magazine writing, photography, and more. The curriculum includes:

  • Sample syllabi
  • Full lessons and mini-lessons
  • Assignments and quizzes
  • Teacher notes and tips
  • Searchable list of resources and readings

What are media instructors saying?

Our pilot educators taught a variety of media courses at schools including the University of Wisconsin, the University of Texas, the University of Oregon, Auburn University, DePaul University and Penn State University. Here’s what they had to say about the curriculum after using it in their classrooms:

“The material was well-organized and thorough. The presentation slides, activities, and supplemental materials were all very helpful. There were explanations for the activities and tips on how to implement them, as well as helpful suggestions on how to modify the lessons for time or other reasons.”

“The lecture/presentation materials…had a wealth of information in them and were easy to adjust for the purposes of my class.”

“It was nice to have some ready-made slides I could use to enhance concepts I was already teaching.”

“It was easy to work with materials and was great to be able to modify and add to them.”

How can I begin using the curriculum?

All Democracy Infusion Project content can be found on the Center for Cooperative Media’s website. You must register to access the full list of materials. (Don’t worry, we don’t share your information!)

The curriculum is free, updated in real-time, and open for all to use.

Our Starter Guide can help you decide how and when to use the content, along with a library of materials organized for easy navigation. Our “How Do I…” guide is a time-saver that takes you directly to some of our most popular resources.

How you can help

We ask one favor — your feedback. To update and continuously improve the Democracy Infusion Project, we’d love to know what assignments, readings and other content you’ve used in your media classrooms to teach the history and importance of democracy. We also want to hear your opinions on the assignments, teacher tips, video selections and anything else we’ve offered through the Democracy Infusion Project.

Use our easy Instant Feedback Form as many times as you like. It’s included in every piece of content in the curriculum.

We hope to hear from you!

🗳️ Contact the Democracy Day organizing team!

Email info@usdemocracyday.org, sign up via Airtable here, or check out the Democracy Day project page to learn more about what pro-democracy reporting looks like in practice.

Jane Elizabeth is a veteran journalist and former managing editor of the (Raleigh) News & Observer; and a former editor in newsrooms including The Washington Post, The Virginian-Pilot and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She is the former director of accountability journalism at the American Press Institute; and has taught journalism at five universities including Ohio University, Radford University and the University of Pittsburgh.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a primarily grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The mission of the Center for Cooperative Media is to grow and strengthen local journalism and support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond. The Center is supported with operational and project funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, NJ Civic Information Consortium, Rita Allen Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation and the Independence Public Media Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

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Jane Elizabeth
Center for Cooperative Media

Always a journalist. Priors: Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raleigh News & Observer, American Press Institute; Virginian-Pilot. Recovering adjunct.