Prairie Public tackles bullying in rural schools

Meg Cramer
PIN analyst
(Photo by Flickr user Dean Terry)

(Photo by Flickr user Dean Terry)

Editor’s note: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting the work being done in partner newsrooms that have received Public Insight Network engagement funding.

This week, Prairie Public Broadcasting in Fargo, N.D., launched an anti-bullying engagement project with a query to 450 school superintendents, principals and counselors across the state.

Responses to that query will inform a multimedia project aimed at providing listeners with a deeper understanding of bullying within North Dakota schools and how educators are addressing it, particularly in rural areas. Praire Public will also create spaces online and in schools to lead discussions about bullying with students across the state.

Meg Luther Lindholm, a producer at Prairie Public, answered a few of our questions about the project.

What’s your role in this project?
My role is to oversee all aspects of project production, from initial contacts with school counselors and educators who are working with students to story development and production. I will also be overseeing the monitoring of our social media sites so that their focus remains positive, and not another forum for bullying behavior.

Where did the idea for this topic come from?
The idea was sparked by the state mandate that all school districts have policies in place to address bullying by the start of the current school year. We thought the moment was ripe for this project, given the attention educators were paying to the issue.

What communities or groups are you focused on engaging? Why?
We hope to engage all groups with a stake in the topic. We sent our first query to students, since their stories are the engine and grist for this project. We also plan to engage counselors since they are on the front line of addressing the problem in schools. We will also do outreach to parents and principals to learn about how they address bullying.

How are you planning to engage with your audience around this topic? What do you think they’ll find compelling about these stories?
This project will allow our radio audience to hear directly from young people about how bullying affects them. Students will hopefully engage with each other’s stories on the website, and learn about student-initiated anti-bullying projects. Counselors will engage each other on the website, too, in discussing their approaches to the problem. Parents will hopefully engage around learning how they can be more proactive, especially with their children’s use of social media.

What are you hoping the impact of this project will be?
Our goal for the project is to raise awareness of how children experience bullying and what they, educators, counselors and parents are doing to reduce it.


The Public Insight Network awarded engagement funding to 17 public media newsrooms across the country. We’ll continue to track the work of those newsrooms and others in our Partner Notes blog series.