Many student reporters have told Ms. Freeman that they're disappointed the candidates aren't talking more about education. "They say to me, 'They must think NCLB [the federal No Child Left Behind law] is working,' " she says.
Freeman selects kid reporters based on the originality of essays they write about their communities.
"I look for the kids that go beyond [descriptions of] tourist attractions," she says. One student stood out by writing about Portland, Ore., as a bicycle city, with all the issues that raises, such as bike safety and environmental benefits.
Freeman gives them a run-down on how media events work and the basics of interviewing. Some of the key lessons: Look people in the eye. Never ask a question that can be answered with just a "yes" or a "no." Report the facts, not your opinion or emotions after hearing a charismatic speaker.
True to their training as objective journalists, the kids in New Hampshire wouldn't let on if they had any favorites in the race for president.
The idea of having kids do the reporting for Scholastic came to Freeman during the presidential race in 2000. The first kid reporters were from Beaver Meadow, where principal Roger Brooks had already trained some students to do local reporting.
Now the Scholastic Kids Press Corps reports on other news, too, not just elections. "They're really now like the bureau chiefs for Scholastic News and Junior Scholastic magazine," Freeman says. "They've interviewed [Supreme Court] Chief Justice John Roberts and Tom Cruise – the whole gamut."