Monday, April 16, 2012

20 Years of Youth-made Media

Monday, April 16, 2012

Looking for strong examples of youth media and journalism projects? Check out two decades-worth of work carried out by Mindy Faber, founding director of OpenYouth Networks. OYN is a program based at Columbia College Chicago. Faber has been working with urban youth since the 90’s and hopes the 65+ videos currently posted on her Vimeo channel can be used as samples and inspirations for teachers and youth.

The videos are a diverse documentation of life, from youth in urban environments to Faber’s own family and friends—all spoken in their own words. The collection features interviews, youth-produced narratives and stories of social change covering a wide spectrum of issues that affect the lives of middle and high school students.

Faber hopes the footage will be of interest to anyone involved with the future of youth media and journalism. Some of her projects can be found here:

Part 3 of Resolutions: A Digital Dialogue: This video was made by Evanston Township High School students and interweaves footage shot from when the students shadowed each other at one another’s schools, as well as clips from a 3-hour discussion that took place in the TV studio at ETHS.

 Mi Nobre: by Astrid Maldonado, a 17 year Latina student who participated in a Global Youth Video Machete workshop. The video was presented at the National Endowment for the Humanities annual conference as a example of multicultural and digital learning in 2003.

Race Is, Race Ain't, Class is, Class Ain't: This mockumentary was made by youth in collaboration with video artist, Mindy Faber in 1999. Miranda July wrote an essay about it that was published in Felix in the early 2000s.

For more of Mindy's videos visit:

OpenYouth Media
Fractured Fairytales: Movies made by middle school students
An archival site featuring videos interviews with urban youth
Narrative works by high school youth

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Why News Matters: Update

Monday, April 09, 2012

We asked. You responded.
It turns out news does matter.

Six weeks ago, we invited you to submit ideas for our proposed 3-year, $6 million WHY NEWS MATTERS grantmaking initiative. By the April 2 deadline we had fielded 151 applications.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their creative ideas. The Journalism Program staff is in the midst of evaluating the applications. More than 90 percent of them focus on news literacy awareness, education or training.

The first round of judging will be completed by April 15.

—Clark Bell, Journalism Program Director

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Student Story Ideas & News Literacy: The hands-on approach

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

On March 16, Candace Bowen of Kent State University’s Center for Scholastic Journalism gave a fascinating keynote speech to high school students and journalism advisers from across Chicago. The 300 or so students were gathered at the city’s Cultural Center for the annual high school journalism awards ceremony hosted by Roosevelt University. Her topic? How to come up with good story ideas. We loved it – she trimmed what could probably be an endless list of suggestions down to a pithy 5 Tips, or questions a student reporter can ask to help spark ideas. We find it stimulating – not just because this list could be used by anyone anywhere, but because it is part of how doing reporting exposes young people to the mysteries of journalism, and connects them to journalism, what it means to produce quality content and to the meaning of good, well-sourced storytelling.

Tip #1: What has made me angry lately?
If your sister wearing your sweater made you mad, why not talk to a few peers to see what makes them mad too? And even take it further – ask a school counselor or family therapist to ask them what makes young people mad. Or what about the system for rating movies? What differences really exist between the R-rated movie you can’t see and the PG movie you can see.

Tip #2: What have I wondered about?
Ever noticed that construction site down the street? Maybe a shopping center is being put in. Will that mean more jobs for teen readers? Or what will that new bridge mean for traffic near the school?

Tip #3: What is the next Big Ticket item I’m going to buy?
Might explore automobiles and safety issues. Or look into computers. What computers do students need to bring with them to college? You don’t want a PC if your major uses software that works better on Macs.

Tip #4: What have I been worried about lately?
Everything from a flu epidemic to snow days can be cause for worry. You can contact everyone from the school nurse to the county health department to get specific details about how to keep yourself healthy and precautions to take. And snow days don’t have to be a mystery. Find out who makes the decisions for your school and when and what they use as a basis.

Tip #5: What did my best friend just ask me?
It may be just silly gossip but maybe not. There are zillions of ideas all around you.
But the bottom line is that you have to localize – and “teen-ize” – your ideas. Give your readers info they won’t find elsewhere because it’s not written just for them. You’re the only one writing for your specific audience. Dig for the sources with the info that can make a difference in their lives and yours.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Why News Matters: Sailing

Monday, April 02, 2012

Ever since we started to move our attention toward the audience and issues of information credibility, we’ve been astounded at how momentum is growing for what we and others are calling News Literacy.

Examples of news literacy ‘teaching moments’ seem to be coming at us in a flurry. From the Kony 2012 video to the Mike Daisey “This American Life” piece and retraction, as well as the purportedly leaked documents from the Heartland Institute, compelling examples abound. Each new instance raises – in very different ways – issues of credibility, bias, the difference between spin and high-quality reporting – and how to distinguish between the two.

But there’s more: We’re seeing and hearing testimony from a lot of people that they are as concerned as we are, and want to play a role in moving things in the right direction. At this point, in this nascent field, we’ve got more questions than answers: What are the most compelling ways for credible news and information to come alive for young people?  Can the isolation of growing old in a big city be mitigated through the potential of digital information literacy to connect people? Can the young produce reporting that speaks beyond their peers and has meaning for all of us? How can news organizations use their platform to engage readers in dialogue and educate them about the mysteries of reporting? And as Richard Rodriguez explored in his Harper’s magazine essay two years ago: Who plays the role of helping to shape the identity of today’s cities? And is there a role for those engaged in workforce development, adult literacy, technology, the arts and other areas?

Here are just a few examples of ways that we see news literacy as being tremendously relevant:

·      Knowledge is Power: The website from ClearHealthCosts includes an interactive map based on Medicare data for actual pay for hospital stays. Helps people see the different costs of the same procedure in the same city. Simple and revolutionary.
·      Open-Door Policy: University publications like Madison Commons in Wisconsin are doing a compelling job of explaining their role and inviting readers to become engaged. The header on their homepage says it all: Who we are, What we do, What you can do, Talk, Tag cloud and Multimedia. Applause.
·      YLCM: In a conversation with New America Media’s Jacob Simas and Raj Jayadev, we noticed they’ve dropped the term youth media and now talk about ‘youth-led community media.’ Young people aged 14 and into their twenties are playing a role in reporting on community issues. We see this same commitment to quality in other places: Witness Free Spirit Media’s 10-minute documentary on food deserts in North Lawndale.
·      The Event: When young people learn to report, their journalism becomes a springboard for deeper civic engagement. A great example is the “What’s hitting teens harder than adults?” townhall organized by Columbia LINKS, where high school reporters launched a special edition R-Wurd magazine at an event featuring experts and elected officials. See the issue here. It includes a cover story “Not Hiring: The plight of jobless teens,” as well as a piece on hoodies as fashion. How timely.
·      Creative Story Telling: Young journalists in particular are experimenting with creative ways to connect with audiences. An example is the DC-based Pulitzer Center, which sent a photojournalist and a poet to cover Haiti post-earthquake. Erin Polgreen sent us this link to coverage of refugees in Damascus, in cartoon format.
·      An Editor’s Tough Love: Julia Lieblich, author of “Wounded I Am More Awake,” which tells the story of a doctor who survived six Bosnian concentration camps, just penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. In it she lays out how after three years of interviews for her book, her editor told her to go and confirm the facts. So she went, as she says, to ‘fact-check horror.’ She lays out how this ultimately led to richer work.
·      The Impact of Games: And back to kids. Students at the Reavis School on Chicago’s South Side – in a News Literacy Project program – produced an audio report on the impact of video games on their lives. It’s simply great work. The story is here.

So many challenges and so many questions. But at least it seems there’s momentum on our side. Nice to have a little wind in your sails.
--Mark Hallett, senior program officer


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