Who’s Who: More Youth Media Organizations That Helped Get Out the Vote

mondale_150.jpgAs November 2, 2004, approached, the mainstream media reported that the youth vote might swing the elections. Teens at youth media organizations devoted considerable energy to helping lure their peers to the polls and informing them about the issues at hand.

In Minnesota, two of Phillips Community Television’s Youth Media hip-hop artists—Chris “Shakademic” Johnson, 18, and Glenn Scott, 19—collaborated with adult producers to create a political documentary that got teens talking about the election. In it, Shakademic teaches the real Walter Mondale how to scratch a record with headphones pressed against an ear. According to The Star Tribune, when the thirty-minute documentary made its debut on Twin Cities Public Television Channel 2, it scored the second highest ratings of any show that night. Johnson and Scott also distributed copies of the show to local high schools. New Youth Connections (published by Youth Communication), the magazine written by New York City teens and distributed to approximately 60,000 students in the city’s public high schools ran a special pre-election issue featuring an interview with a young soldier in Iraq who was beginning to question the war, as well as interviews with teen GOP protesters and young Republicans. In that issue teens also ruminated on whether inmates and 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote, and why a woman has never been nominated for president.

The cable-access Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s Youth Channel broadcast a spirited panel of teen activists debating issues like whether the Republican convention should have been held in New York, what would happen if there was a draft, and how the government should respond to AIDS abroad.

Even Newsweek partook in youth-made media, running a regular section about young people’s perspectives on the elections presented not through the usual lens of an adult reporter, but written directly by young people.

Introducing Youth Media Reporter

Dear Reader:
We are very excited to launch Youth Media Reporter, a web journal sponsored by the Open Society Institute’s Youth Initiatives program. Designed as a forum for stakeholders in the youth media field, Youth Media Reporter will discuss emerging ideas, trends, and practices, and will deepen and extend knowledge about the developing field. We are pleased to announce that Kendra Hurley, an accomplished journalist and veteran youth media professional, is the editor of Youth Media Reporter. Kendra is also a managing editor at Youth Communication, where she served as editor of Represent, a magazine for and by youth in the foster care system, from 1998 to 2004. She has written for publications including USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, City Limits, and Child Welfare Watch. She earned an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University.
Youth Media Reporter aims to be a dynamic publication that reflects the richness and diversity within the youth media field. This growing community of programs represents a landscape in which young people are participating in a process of collaborative inquiry, communication, production, and distribution, thereby providing audiences with compelling and unique perspectives about their experiences, their hopes, and their communities. While programming approaches and methodologies vary among organizations, there remains a commitment to involving the most hard-to-reach and isolated youth. Practitioners, scholars, and researchers are increasingly interested in learning more about program practices, the range of themes discussed in the media, the means of media distribution, and the media’s impact on audiences.
We hope that you find the articles/discussions vital and informative. We look forward to hearing from you as you contribute your ideas and suggestions for future articles and topics.
Erlin Ibreck
Director, Youth Initiatives
Open Society Institute
Anna Lefer
Program Officer, Youth Initiatives
Open Society Institute