April 13, 2005

NEWS / PROJECTS: Youth Website Lends Eye, Ear, Pen to Hard-to-Reach Teens

Youth Website Lends Eye, Ear, Pen to Hard-to-Reach Teens
Posted by: laurakujawski on Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Open Society Institute launched Youth Media Reporter, a web journal documenting the growing role of youth-produced television, radio, film, and print reporting. The website provides a forum for youth media professionals to share and discuss their work, and provides insight into the lives of young people, particularly those most at-risk and isolated.

Through original reporting and commentary, YMReporter.org will explore the various ways youth media organizations cover local and national news, including the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the impact young journalists had on the youth vote, and stereotypes of teens by the mainstream media. YMReporter.org will also report on the latest trends in youth-produced media, philanthropic support of the field, relevant research, and distribution opportunities.

?Youth media programs foster free and creative expression, while developing young people's critical thinking, analysis, and research skills,? said Erlin Ibreck, director of OSI?s Youth Initiatives program.? OSI regards youth media as a way for young people to bring their issues into the public debate.?

Youth media provides an important outlet for teens who are often hard to reach, like those who are incarcerated, in foster care, or living in rural areas. The programs are run by adults who help train young people in various forms of media production through writing, filmmaking, radio production, and other creative journalism mediums while providing the public a thoughtful, first-hand look at communities and perspectives rarely covered elsewhere.

Youth Media Reporter reflects the growth in teen-produced media. Films created by young people are steadily making strides in the mainstream media and entertainment industry. In January 2005, two teenage film makers from Brooklyn won a special award at the Sundance Film Festival for their documentary, Bullets in the Hood, about the 2004 police shooting of Timothy Stansbury, an unarmed Brooklyn teenager. The movie, co-produced by Stansbury?s teen friend Terrence Fisher who was present at the shooting, highlights the easy availability of guns in one low-income neighborhood and the prevailing assumption that male, African American teens in such neighborhoods are presumed armed and therefore dangerous. Fisher and co-producer Daniel Howard are student producers at the Downtown Community Television Center, an organization where adults train young people in TV and film production.

The influence of young people can also be heard on the radio. The personal narratives of WNYC's Radio Rookies, a cadre of young reporters who work with adult journalists to create radio stories, have become a regular addition to the station's programming. The teenagers produce stories chronicling their experiences with inadequately funded and overcrowded public high schools, the impact of parental drug addiction, and personal struggles with obesity (the latter was subsequently incorporated into an ABC Television segment on obesity).

And in fall 2004, the Columbia Journalism Review wrote about the impact of a special issue of Represent, a teen magazine written by and for foster care youth. Entitled "Crack Babies, All Grown Up," the issue took aim at stereotypes of "crack babies" based on outdated science. The reporters, some of whom were labeled crack babies themselves, helped to debunk the media myths that stigmatized them and many other children of parents battling drug addiction.

Youth Media Reporter is a project of the Open Society Institute?s Youth Media Program, which supports a broad range of youth media projects in addition to distribution efforts, technical assistance and training to improve the quality of the media, pilot projects connected to adult media outlets, and film festivals.

The Open Society Institute, a private operating and grantmaking foundation, is part of the network of foundations, created and funded by George Soros.

SOURCE: http://www.pnnonline.org/article.php?sid=5852&mode=thread&order=0

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
Bergstr. 8 / 10th floor
D-45770 Marl - Germany
Tel.: +49 2365 502480
Mobile: +49 176 23107083
Fax: +49 12126 23107083
Email: cschuepp@unicef.org
URL: www.unicef.org/magic
Mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youthful-media
The YPMN is supported by UNICEF and hosted by the ECMC.
The opinions and views expressed in this message and/or articles & websites linked to from this message do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

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