Local Insight into an International Problem
Last week Christopher Schuepp, who recently spoke to YMR about the international youth media movement, accompanied a group of young Albanian TV journalists to Macedonia. When the teens walked into a high school in Skopje, everyone “terribly booed,” says Schuepp. Why? One week earlier the local media had wrongly vilified the young journalists.
The issue of young people receiving an inordinate amount of negative press is an international problem, says Schuepp. “Similar things are happening in France right now,” he notes. “The students and young people demonstrating against the unfair new job regulations are simply portrayed as ‘troublemakers’” by the Agence France Press.
To help combat youth stereotyping in the media, Schuepp recommends reading “Speaking for Ourselves: A Youth Assessment of Local News Coverage.”
“It gives great background information and in-depth data on one of the main issues that is wrong with the media today: the negative portrayal of young people,” says Schuepp. “I think the conclusions and recommendations in ‘Speaking for Ourselves’ should be sent to the Agence France Press immediately. And actually to all practicing journalists around the globe.”
Giving Up on Cool: A Media Literacy Tool
Dave Yanofsky of Uth TV, who recently wrote about quality in youth media, recommends Frontline’s film Merchants of Cool: A Report on the Creators & Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers. The video takes a close look at how creators and sellers of popular culture have made teenagers the “hottest consumer demographic in America,” according to Frontline. It explores questions relevant to media literacy such as: Are the creators of cool “simply reflecting teen desires or have they begun to manufacture those desires in a bid to secure this lucrative market? And have they gone too far in their attempts to reach the hearts—and wallets—of America’s youth?”
Yanofsky, who used to head the media literacy organization Just Think, has found that the video provides ample fuel for a group discussion “about youth culture, advertising, and media literacy. Teens can use it to gain insight into how they often end up walking around with a huge bulls eye on their backs when it comes to advertising and the creation of ‘cool.’”
Evaluating Program Impact
Youth programs work is an eternal request of funders, yet evaluating youth media program impact is still a trial-and-error process, YMR recently reported. Tony Streit of the Educational Development Center (EDC) says that might soon change, thanks to the Center’s ongoing research around youth media program evaluation.
On April 17, EDC’s YouthLearn will launch an update to their website that will provide a look inside their work with Time Warner–funded youth media programs. EDC assisted Time Warner grantees in building capacity to conduct effective program evaluations. The new section has easy-to-follow strategies, evaluation models, and tools for youth media programs looking to measure impact. EDC’s research on self-assessment methods common to the field is also available.
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