Ringtones to the Rescue

Young Iraqis are using text messages to lighten their lives. The content of their texts and ringtones speak “volumes about the state of affairs here: jokes and songs about suicide bombings, sectarianism, power outages, gas prices, Saddam Hussein and George Bush,” reports USA Today.
“It’s not like there’s much to do around here,” said one young man. “It’s perhaps the only venue to express ourselves.”

New York’s Next Generation of Muckrakers

Each summer, thousands of New York City teens contribute to their communities through activism and organizing that frequently involves media projects, the Gotham Gazette reports. A young activist fighting to keep a power plant out of his neighborhood helped produce a film about local pollution that screened at the United Nations. And a group of young women working with Arab Women Activists in the Arts and Media (AWAAM) are developing radio spots about issues facing Arab women in their community.

“Young people are extremely aware of what goes on in their community and often they don’t have a means to really propose solutions to problems that are affecting them,” said a program officer from North Star Fund, which is helping fund AWAAM’s youth program. North Star Fund considers nurturing young activists to be an investment in the city’s future.

Reaching Teen Readers

A new study by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation finds that content by and for teens strongly impacts a newspaper’s ability to attract young readers and keep them as they age. About 30 percent of teens surveyed (presumably who read newspapers with youth pages) said that it was teen-written content that drew them to the paper, according to a press release. About 220 newspapers nationwide produce youth-written content, most which is writen by teens working with a newspaper editor. Other youth content in newspapers comes from syndicated services.


The House of Representatives endorsed a bill preventing Internet users at schools and libraries from using social networking sites and chat rooms. “This unnecessary and overly broad legislation will hinder students’ ability to engage in distance learning and block library computer users from accessing a wide array of essential Internet applications including instant messaging, email, wikis and blogs,” said American Library Association president Leslie Burger, LibraryJournal.com reported.

Merchants of Cool

“According to young professionals working in fields in which fluency in the dialects and habits of teenagers is paramount, hanging out with high schoolers is cool, and sometimes even professionally advantageous,” the New York Times reports. “Often these teenagers are known as ‘the intern.’…While they get college-résumé-boosting work experience, not to mention entree into clubs and parties, their employers get around-the-clock muses and ambassadors to youth culture.” The employers praise teens for bringing “authenticity” and energy to the office, but struggle with boundaries: Is it OK to let a teen drive your car? How much is a teen a friend, how much an employee?

Connecting the Dots

Last fall, Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) held the After School Evaluation Symposium in Washington, D.C., with over 100 researchers, evaluators, policymakers, and practitioners attending, according to a recent post on the YouthLearn listserv. The two-day meeting aimed to strengthen links between research, practice, and policy in the after-school arena. Key themes and resources from the conference, as well as an overview of the after-school field, are now available on HFRP’s website.

Beneath the Hoodie

An online poll of nearly 750 young people in the United Kingdom conducted by two youth charities found that 80 percent of youth surveyed believed “unfair portrayal in the media led to strained relations with older generation,” the BBC reported. The full report, which reveals that youth feel “demonized” by politicians as well as the media, can be downloaded from UNICEF’s MAGIC News site.

“A New Way of Thinking”

Armenian youth leader Arthur Ghazaryan has launched a newspaper for young people in a northeastern town of the former Soviet state, International Journalists’ Network reports. Ghazaryan also plans to start a youth radio station in Armenia, a country where press freedom remains tenuous. “Right now a new generation is getting educated abroad, and they are coming back to Armenia, and they are bringing a new way of thinking about journalism … more European, more American, more democratic,” said Ghazaryan. “I’m optimistic that everything will change.”