Democracy Day: How to participate


Democracy Day is an effort announced in 2022 to draw attention to the crisis facing American democracy, provide the public with the context and information they need, and bring all types of media together to sound the alarm collectively. We want to incentivize media coverage through a nationwide journalism collaborative, one day where print, radio, TV, and digital media on the national and local level can come together to report on the threats to democracy that we’re facing.


Democracy Day 2024 is set for Sept. 15, 2024 to coincide with the International Day of Democracy.


The Democracy Day team is actively recruiting newsrooms across the U.S. to be a media partner in the collaborative. Any news organization in the U.S. can participate.  If you’re with an organization that doesn’t produce news, you can join to help amplify and promote the effort.


To participate, you will need to:

— Get a commitment to participate from your organization and its leadership.
Sign up to be a media partner.
— Agree to the expectations regarding what is required and encouraged for media partners.
— Once you sign up, we will be in touch with more information, including suggested taglines, branding you can use, webinar dates, etc.


To participate, media partners will be asked to:

— Allow your name and logo to be added to the media partner page.
— Produce at least one story or piece of content (but we encourage more!) from the content menu below on Sept. 15, outside of a paywall if you have one.
— Share back links to stories, broadcasts, podcasts, etc., with the Democracy Day team so we can compile them.
— If you’re not with a newsroom, we will ask you to promote Democracy Day to your networks.


How do you cover democracy in the U.S.? Start with these story ideas

By Beatrice Forman

For those considering becoming a Democracy Day reporting partner — or for anyone seeking examples of what “pro-democracy reporting” can look like — we’ve crafted a comprehensive content menu. This guide provides a range of story examples, reporting frameworks, and topic du jours that you and your newsrooms can explore to engage your audiences and contribute to the national conversation around the state of democracy.

Our content menu is meant to inspire and guide your newsrooms in democracy-centric reporting, not serve as an end-all-be-all. Local journalism contributes directly to our democracy, so we hope this guide also empowers local reporters to feel confident covering the issues most directly impacting democracy in their communities.

Click the sections below to expand them and learn more.

✔️ Elections: Centering communities, not candidates

2024 is an election year with races up and down the ballot. Here are ideas for how to refresh your election coverage:

  • Voter guides and town halls (or reverse townhalls) that center audiences and the issues that are most important to them, instead of politicians.
  • Solutions stories that examine the evidence behind the policies and proposals backed by major candidates versus those supported by the public — are those the same? If not, why?
  • Stories that track the evolution of campaign promises over time: How have candidates’ specific policy proposals and platforms evolved or stood the same? If you spot major changes, explain them — and consider if public opinion, current events, or competition from another candidate is responsible for those differences.
  • Explainers on how elections are conducted in your city, region, or state, focusing on behind-the-scenes processes and the credibility of those processes.
  • Explainers about the process of getting ballot measures and constitutional/charter amendments approved at the municipal, state, or county level.
  • Explainers about what it is required to run for different levels of office, plus the resources it takes to run a competitive campaign. What barriers do those implicit and explicit parameters create when it comes to running for office?
  • Profile candidates through a community or voting rights lens: Who is coming out in strong support or opposition of these candidates, and why? What are their stances on policies related to voting rights, democratic participation, and protection?
  • Profiles that humanize people working in government or local election offices (i.e poll workers, judges of elections, translators, etc.)
  • Follow the money: Who is funding these campaigns and candidates, and what are their interests?
  • And finally, proactive stories that warn readers about what to expect on election day.

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Voting rights, processes, and what’s working to counter voter suppression

Consider covering voting in lockstep with covering elections to provide clarity around the integrity and intricacies of casting a ballot. Here are some ideas:

  • Stories about how voting works, how to vote, changes in voting laws or polling locations, information about how to access absentee ballots, early voting, etc.
  • Stories about how voting literally and access-wise looks different for different communities: How many polling places in your coverage area are ADA accessible? What translation aids are available for foreign language speakers? What about transit access? Etc.
  • Stories about efforts to suppress turnout, how communities are responding, and what’s working to increase turnout — especially among those who have been disenfranchised in the past.
  • Profiles of who’s making progress when it comes to increasing turnout and accessibility, ensuring fairness in redistricting, or other ways groups or municipalities are strengthening democracy.
  • Explainers of recent changes to election law and voting rights in your coverage areas: How have they enfranchised or disenfranchised people?
  • Pre-bunking: Stories about what election boards and states are doing to ensure voting systems remain secure in between elections.
  • Fact-checking and debunking misinformation about the democratic process
  • Explainers about the voting rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, and examining attempts to restrict those rights.
  • And, finally, compare the U.S. democratic process to that of other countries, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement.

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Misinformation and disinformation: Fact-checking falsehoods while explaining how they work

Covering misinformation and disinformation in 2024 means going beyond merely debunking viral falsehoods to explain their origins and the mechanisms that amplify them. Here are some ideas:

  • Debunking and pre-bunking viral falsehoods with context: Who stands to gain from the spread of mis/disinfo? Have we seen similar campaigns before? What were their impacts?
  • Stories that unravel the mechanisms and organizations behind disinformation campaigns: How is this information spreading? What’s working to slow and stop the spread of disinfo?
  • Stories that unpack how mis- and disinfo spread among different communities, especially those that have less access to or distrust “mainstream”/traditional media sources
  • Stories that explain and explore the use of artificial intelligence in the creation and promotion of mis/disinfo, but also stories that explore how AI can be leveraged to detect and combat viral falsehoods.
  • Profiles of the people and organizations working to combat viral misinformation, focusing in on the efficacy, impact, and reach of their efforts
  • Explainers about how to identify mis/disinfo and what to do about it
  • Initiatives that can reach audiences across platforms, such as live fact-checking debates, engagement stories that ask audiences about their info gaps, etc.

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Protest, free speech, and what governments are doing to restrict and protect them

Protests over a myriad of causes are part and parcel of the 2024 election, with their ability to exist and persist influencing how comfortable voters feel expressing their beliefs and heading to the ballot box. Here are some ideas for how to thematically cover free speech and protests:

  • What is your municipality, city or state doing to restrict or protect the right to free speech and protest? How effective have those policies been, and who are they impacting most?
  • Monitor how your municipality, city, or state has responded to recent protests and compare it across time and causes: When are the police called? When aren’t they? How are those consequences restricting community member’s ability to assemble?
  • Examine how protests and speech around community issues of consequence have spurred action: What’s working? What’s not?
  • Stories that examine how free speech and assembly restrictions could impact voter turnout and choice: Are people feeling more or less inclined to vote?
  • Profiles of the people and organizations working to protect free speech, free press, and the right to assembly
  • Explainers of first amendment rights, plus what is legal in your municipality, city or state when it comes to public protests
  • How book bans have affected your state or community, and what’s being done about them

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Voter fatigue, disillusionment, and what’s working to combat it

During the 2024 election, you’re going to hear a lot from people who don’t plan to vote, or — at the very least — feel unenthused about casting a ballot. Here are some tips for how to cover voter fatigue with context, nuance, and no derision:

  • Examine the history and success of third party candidates and protest votes in your municipality and state: What circumstances led to their popularity or success? What can we learn from them?
  • Ask voters on the bubble about why they feel disillusioned, examining the obstacles certain constituencies might face to vote, a lack of engagement, or other issues that could sow distrust in the democratic system.
  • Ask voters on the bubble about what would make them feel good about voting again, and profile the people or organizations working on those solutions.
  • Examine gaps in voter outreach: Who are campaigns working to engage, and who is being left out? What impact do those gaps have in turnout?
  • Profile the people and organizations working to combat voter fatigue and improve voter outreach, especially in marginalized or often-forgotten communities

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Newsroom transparency & trust: Explain your work, and why it matters

Reporting on democracy isn’t just about covering elections, local government, and bad actors. It’s also about democratizing your reporting process, ethics, and priorities. Here are some ideas for how to explain your journalism:

  • Transparency stories that explain how your newsroom is covering elections and democracy: What will you do? What won’t you do?
  • Initiatives that engage publics: Take and answer the community’s questions about the candidates and voting, for example, or get the community more involved in how you issue endorsements.
  • Tell the story of your journalism’s impact: How have the mechanisms of reporting in your newsroom changed how local or state governments operate? And what is your reporting currently doing to advance democracy?
  • Participatory and service journalism: Are there ways for publics to use the same tools journalists use (i.e FOIA, Sunshine Act, etc.) to access the same information journalists access? How?

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Civic engagement

This election, find ways to empower and engage your audience as active participants in democracy, which can range from straightforward reporting to events and interactive projects. Here are some ways to encourage civic engagement:

  • Profiles of local democracy-focused nonprofits and their work.
  • Interactive journalism that gamifies civic engagement, like quizzes on voting or local government in your area, candidate or volunteer opportunity matches, etc.
  • Articles that explore some of the most well-known constitutional rights, including the First Amendment — its history, notable legal cases, and what is allowed and not allowed, and how violations are punished or not punished.
  • Service journalism that explains ways your audience can get involved with democracy both at the local level and beyond voting (e.g., host a ballot party, which gov’t meetings are public to attend, etc.)
  • Events that put your audience in conversation with public officials, candidates, and experts on voting rights, civic engagement, and the issues most impacting your community
  • Service journalism that gives your audience the tools to meaningfully participate in democracy, such as voter guides and candidate forums, but also explainers of how local government offices operate, etc.

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:

✔️ Government & policy: Checks, balances, and transitions of power

Don’t get caught up in just campaign coverage: Consider how local government currently functions and how — plus, for whom — it could function better. Here are some evergreen ideas for covering local politics with an emphasis on accountability:

  • What’s working in your city/county and state? What’s not working, and who is doing it better? How?
  • What policies and mechanisms — if any — exist for the public to scrutinize public officials and agencies, or hold government officials accountable?
  • Explainers on the transition of power in your municipality, city or state: How does it work? How much preparation does it take, and when does that prep start? What is a stake for falling through the cracks?
  • Examine how checks and balances work in your municipality, city or state. Explain the branches of government and what they can do on their own, what they must work together on, and what happens in times of disagreement.
  • Follow how money is being spent in your municipality, city, or state: What public officials are getting raises, and what budgets are being cut or expanded? Who has the say over those changes? How would your community like to see money spent?

🙌 Here are some examples from other newsrooms:


That’s fine, too! We’ve created this submission form so you can share democracy-related content and coverage with us (published or unpublished). We can showcase it here and share it on social media, or we can publish it right here on the Democracy Day website and then share/promote it.



June 2023: “The Democracy Beat: A look at the future of collaborative journalism,” was co-hosted by The Objective and the Community Info Coop, as part of the U.S. Democracy Day nationwide collaboration on Sept. 15, 2023. Our speakers, Gabe Schneider and Simon Galperin, shared their experiences in defining “democracy” for their organizations, as well as collaborative fundraising strategies and managing a dedicated democracy beat.

Watch the full recording here.

This 1-hour virtual session, hosted by the Democracy Day organizing committee, provides an overview of the project and covers items on the Democracy Day content menu, including some great examples for nearly every menu item.

We also hear incredible and inspirational words from guest speakers Michael Bolden (@michaelbolden) and Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu).

Click here to read the full text or listen to a recording of Michael Bolden’s remarks.


💝  Email us for more info about how to financially support Democracy Day.

The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is providing infrastructure support for this iteration of Democracy Day, so you can contact us at [email protected].

Still have questions? Contact the Center for Cooperative Media directly by sending an email to [email protected].


The Democracy Day project is supported by Democracy Fund and sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.