In the Works at YMR

Aftab Uzzaman CC-by-nc/2.0/

There has never been a greater need for spaces, platforms, education, and support for young people to document and give voice and vision to their lived experiences. Youth Media Reporter is committed to sharing and amplifying this work, and I am delighted to announce two special issues in the works for the new year.

The first special issue focuses on “Youth Media and Educational Wellbeing,” and will appear online shortly after the new year.  This issue grows out of the Youth, Media, and Educational Justice (YMEJ) initiative in New York City which was started in 2012. The issue is guest edited by Lalitha Vasudevan (Associate Professor of Technology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University) and Joe Riina-Ferrie (Doctoral student, CMLTD, Teachers College, Columbia University). The contributors to this volume are connected with YMEJ either directly or through related participatory research projects, all of which examine the robust intersection of youth, media, and education in the context of wellbeing. The issue will offer multiple perspectives on educational well-being and youth media, gathering together the voices of youth media makers and co-researchers, graduate student researchers, university faculty, and youth media practitioners. We look forward to sharing this issue soon after the new year.

They bring a range of perspectives to the topic including: as youth who have participated in an after-school youth documentary program; as co-researchers who have studied youth media production outside of school; and as educators and researchers who have explored the role of media in mediating relationships and wellbeing between adults and youth. Educational wellbeing is framed as both a means and an end by which to facilitate social arrangements in educational settings toward the cultivation of wellbeing with and for young people. The essays in this special issue also explore a variety of ways that young people encounter media – as consumers, producers, circulators, mediators, and resistors – and suggest a variety of implications that these varying forms of youth and media relationships can have for educators and their pedagogy.

A second special issue, “Our Desired Futures,” is also in the works, through a collaboration between NAMAC’s Consulting Producers and YMR.  Guest edited by Myah Overstreet, this special issue is focused on youth media and creative youth development, and takes its inspiration from NAMAC’s 50 State Dinner Party Project.  In response to a widely circulated Call for Proposals, we received a diverse collection of articles, poetry, descriptive case studies, and pedagogical pieces relating and contributing to the broad fields of youth media and creative youth development.  This collaborative issue builds on past partnership between YMR and NAMAC.  In 2014, we partnered to host a one-day convening of youth media practitioners and leaders at the NAMAC / ACM Joint Conference in Philadelphia. The premise of our partnership was “that there is now, as there has always been, a need for network building, resource sharing, and the nurturing of collective power around challenges and opportunities in youth media practices across the country.”

This 2014 conference itself was the culmination of two prior years of field-building efforts sparked by the 2012 formation of the National Youth Media Network, a group of fiercely committed youth media leaders who organized to catalyze national dialogue and national movement. We didn’t have the language to name it then, but we were indeed asking ourselves the exact question of this special issue, the central question of the 50-State Dinner Party series: “For youth media as practice and youth media as field, what are our desired futures and what do we need to arrive there?”  A variety of critical and creative responses to that question will be gathered together in this special issue, slated for publication in spring.

Through these collaborations, YMR aims to bring together insight, inspiration, and conversation around the critical spaces and moments where youth media intersects with educational wellbeing and creative youth development.  I hope that both issues deepen our understanding and awareness of new and emerging work engaging youth media and social justice.