Letter from the Editor

For four years, Youth Media Reporter has documented stories of young people who discovered confidence, activism, creativity and who they are through the process of youth media. In this issue, my aim was to collect the personal testimonials of youth producers-turned-media educators regarding the impact of youth media on their lives, their peers and their communities and audiences. This issue captures the stories of nine youth media practitioners who are paying it forward, illustrating youth media’s multiplier effect.
The power of experiencing youth media makes a lasting impact on young people, some of who go on to become youth media educators or even start up their own organizations. The stories of these young leaders—some captured in this issue of YMR—speak to the depth, breadth and significance of a youth media education.
Three of these authors— Emily Jacobi, Christine L. Mendoza and Chrystian Rodriguez—experienced the transformative power of youth media programs as teens in the United States. While their stories are unique, as teens in these programs, they developed self-confidence, global citizenship and collaborative problem-solving skills in an environment that privileged peer-to-peer training and youth leadership. As youth media producers they were invited to find their voices—and to help other young people do the same—before they had graduated from high school. Ultimately, Jacobi, Mendoza and Rodriguez graduated from these programs with a greater sense of themselves as leaders and teachers. This confidence, combined with skill and experience, manifested a passion for bringing new generations of young people the life-changing experience youth media provides.
Two articles in this issue document the stories of young people who came into their own as media producers in their late teens, and subsequently became educators. Recognizing the transformative power of storytelling and self-representation, media practitioners Zach Niles, Banker White (with the support of Paula Cavagnaro, Black Nature and Emilie Reiser) and Robert Martin bring storytelling and media production skills to communities who have been historically misrepresented by others. The work of these practitioners has been recognized and supported by youth media organizations, schools, and community leaders, and demonstrates another dimension of the impact media production has on the lives of young people.
Creating this issue of Youth Media Reporter was a joy and inspiration. In the process of interviewing and collaborating with the authors, I felt the enthusiasm, conviction and determination that drives the entire youth media engine forward. The experience of putting these stories together provided the opportunity to see how youth media will continue to build and evolve in the near future. I welcome readers to experience the impact of youth media’s multiplier effect on this issue’s contributors.
Christine Newkirk
Managing Editor, Youth Media Reporter