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  • Writer's pictureCD Davidson-Hiers

Welcome to the Florida Student News Watch

Launching student-powered climate journalism in North Florida: the Florida Student News Watch in 2023.

Hello and welcome

My name is CD Davidson-Hiers and I am the founder and director of the Florida Student News Watch, a student journalism program that mentors and emboldens college-aged writers interested in nonfiction. I started this program in 2020, pre-pandemic, and worked with students remotely as COVID-19 shuttered our state -- as I covered K12 education and COVID-19 state data for the Tallahassee Democrat / USAToday Network newspaper.

Since those early days, the News Watch has gone through several iterations as I have grown the program, but prioritized working one-on-one with students. To date, every young writer who has started a story with the News Watch has placed it, with bylines in the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper and WFSU News.

And what I find incredibly important is that students with the News Watch are paid for their work -- at rates ranging from $0.10/ word to $0.20/ word, depending on their tenure with the program. I hope to instill in younger writers a respect for the truth and rigor of fact-checking, and the understanding that what they do is valuable.

Looking toward the future

In 2023, the News Watch joined the nonprofit, environmentally-focused Sunshine State Biodiversity Group (where I volunteer as Vice President) and will focus most of students' work on climate, environment, social justice and other story angles that prioritize the health of humans and the nonhuman -- respecting that the way we treat world around us will dictate our own futures. The News Watch is funded through the SSBG and maintains an editorial independence from the wider SSBG Board and other SSBG programs.

From a story that examines how the goals sea turtle conservation and how people living at the water's edge are intertwined to an enterprise looking into Native American graduates of universities with Native mascots, from how water quality overlaps with eco-tourism in Florida's springs to one school district's sustainability efforts over school lunch trays -- the stories brought forward by News Watch students will be diverse, engaging and work to make clear the stakes involved in even the smallest of climate conversations.

Two of our 2023 members will also be at Tallahassee's annual Word of South music and literary festival as panelists, introducing events sponsored by the SSBG and participating in a discussion on landscape, resiliency and biodiversity.

Subscribe, support and stay in touch

I'm thrilled to have you here. Subscribe to our email list to receive updates as students publish their stories, and reach out if you have a story idea, tip, public records or want to send in a congratulations.

You may also donate to support our efforts. All donations earmarked for the News Watch go toward supporting the writers in the program, from covering public records request fees to paying for their work.

The News Watch is student-driven climate journalism, and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of it.

Cheers to it all,

CD Davidson-Hiers

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