Introduction to this Issue

The YMR editorial and production team thanks the many contributors to this issue.  Collected in this issue are articles, reports, and spotlights that touch upon and explore issues of real concern and interest to youth media professionals across a variety of contexts.  They provide resources to inform and possibly challenge and inspire our further thinking in a number of ways.  At the level of the field, we have two reports that should get readers thinking and talking about the trends, similarities and differences, challenges and opportunities that mark what it means to organize, practice, support, and sustain youth media spaces and practices at this moment in time.

Kathleen Tyner’s report on the most recent NAMAC survey offers one kind of data for thinking about the field and our respective programs in relation to wider patterns.  Readers are especially invited to contribute comments that help bring to the surface meaningful patterns or questions that emerge in the data.  From Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz & Kasandra VerBrugghen we have another view of conversations happening within and about the field of youth media, and in particular the important ways that youth media is intersecting with multidisciplinary youth arts organizations.  Their article brings readers into recent gatherings of youth media stakeholders at the National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture (NAMAC)/Alliance for Community Media (ACM) Joint Conference in Philadelphia in August, 2014, and the Creative Youth Development Summit in Boston in March 2014.  Again, YMR encourages readers to contribute comments and engage with these reports in ways that help continue the critical conversations that are vital to continuing momentum around field building.

Emerging from the NAMAC/ACM youth media pre-conference retreat is a new feature of YMR–the integration of Huzzaz as a platform for sharing youth media artifacts and products on YMR.  Youth media organizations are invited to continue to help build the gallery by sending YouTube or Vimeo links of youthmade media to YMR’s production editor, Anthony Dalton at adalton@muhlenberg.edu.

The role of youth professional development in youth media programs is evolving and we are pleased to publish here two pieces that bring us close to this work as it is organized at Free Spirit Media in Chicago and at Spy Hop Productions in Salt Lake City.  Lucia Palmarini’s article introduces readers to a new program, The Chicago Track — a free professional development and networking series targeting aspiring 18-25 year old media and music professionals from ethnically and geographically diverse backgrounds.  In a short YMR spotlight piece, readers are introduced to Spy Hop’s program, PitchNic, now in its 12th year of providing creative pathways to professional media careers and empowering young media makers to construct identities as independent filmmakers.

While these pieces focus on advanced youth media makers poised for transitions to careers in media industries, Allison Butler’s article introduces us to efforts in Amherst, Massachusetts to introduce younger learners to the visual literacy practices and principles that inform youth media curricula and programming.  This piece takes us inside a collaboration between a community theatre and UMASS Amherst faculty and students to provide a critical film literacy program for third graders from diverse school and community contexts.  Butler and her student research assistant have provided an account of a collaboration that invites YMR readers to think about the kinds of partnerships that help sustain their programs as well as ways of engaging younger learners on pathways to youth media production.

In addition to all of the authors above who generously share their work through YMR, the journal continues to evolve with the expertise, energy and talent of a dedicated and multifaceted editorial and publishing team in the Department of Media and Communication at Muhlenberg College:

Jenna Azar, co-director of the HYPE youth media program

Anthony Dalton, digital cultures media assistant and instructor

Aggie Ebrahimi-Bazaz, assistant professor of film studies and media and communication

It has been a special pleasure this spring to welcome Aggie to YMR’s home at Muhlenberg College.  We are grateful for her continued role in the work of youth media field building efforts beyond the vital role she played in her previous post at NAMAC.

We invite readers interested in any aspect of YMR’s work to contribute to the dialogue as we seek to integrate diverse activities, artifacts, and voices.