Lora Taub-Pervizpour teaches courses related to youth media in the department of media and communication at Muhlenberg College. She co-directs HYPE, a youth media program for Allentown high school students. She is editor of Youth Media Reporter since 2012.
Youth Media Reporter and the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture’s Consulting Producers are collaborating to produce a special issue of YMR focused on youth media and creative youth development, entitled Our Desired Futures. Inspired by NAMAC’s 50 State Dinner Party Project, this special issue of YMR will explore our Past, Present, and Future, and will be guest edited by Myah Overstreet. This is a call for media makers, writers, poets, practitioners, and educators from near and far to help us explore and teach one another about the chapters of history that make us who we are today. We invite articles, poems, and lesson plans to publish in this special issue. Articles can take a variety of forms: original research articles, descriptive case studies, or critical papers relating and contributing to the broad fields of youth media and creative youth development. With your help, we can make this work of artistic, personal, and professional development possible!
In 2014, Youth Media Reporter & NAMAC 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 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?”
As we who work in education know, growth takes time but not time alone. Growth also requires ongoing investment, persistent effort, unyielding conviction. We are honored and delighted to launch this special issue of YMR as a testament to NAMAC and YMR’s joint commitment to what we bring to this growth-oriented work: space to connect voices, bodies, organizations, and networks that themselves create space for youth expression and development. We invite the NAMAC and YMR communities to intersect here in laying the groundwork for what we believe can be ongoing, collective, and transgenerational action that seeds lasting, cultural impacts across our communities.
The special issue is organized in four sections: Past, Present, and Future, with a final section dedicated to poetry.Contributors are invited to submit work that engages one of these focal areas. Proposals should clearly indicate on the submissions form which section the proposed work addresses.
The central question of this special issue is: How does time (past/present/future) show up in our bodies, movements, work, and field (youth media & creative youth development)?
We are seeking submissions from writers, educators, media-makers, performers, poets, researchers, and artists of ALL AGES that bring our central question to life through poetry, articles (blog-style or academic), lesson/activity plans, photo essays, media, or even something unexpected.
There is no absolute limit on length, however, shorter pieces typically range between 600-1500 words, and longer research articles between 3000-5000 words. Submissions should include practitioner and/or youth voices, be well documented, and be written in a clear and engaging way that considers the journal’s crossover readership, including youth and young adults, artists, cultural organizers, scholars, educators, practitioners, policymakers, funders, and youth media producers. All submissions should follow Chicago Style guidelines.
Call for Articles by November 2 to November 18, 2016
Follow up with all submissions by November 30, 2016
All poems, articles, and lesson plans submitted by December 15, 2016
Selected poems, articles, and lesson plans notified by January 15, 2017
Peer Feedback January 15 to January 22, 2017
Second Draft by February 1, 2017
Second Round Peer Feedback February 2 – February 9, 2017
Final Draft by February 16, 2016
Mid-March: Public Release
About NAMAC’s Collective Action Initiative & 50-State Dinner Party Project
The 50 State Dinner Party Project is the kickoff of a Youth Media Collective Action Initiative produced by the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) to spark creative and civic conversations—over simple dinners. Our goal is to have 50 dinners in 50 different states in the next one to two years!
To start this work, we are reaching out across the country to ask a question inspired by the wisdom of Kate Fowler of Appalshop: What are our desired futures?
We believe that in order to work towards collective action and impact, we need to start with local engagement. Through local conversations, we will be able to find, name, and connect the opportunities and challenges facing rural, suburban, and urban municipalities in our diverse 50 states. This will lead us toward discovering shared visions and articulating shared goals that can move our fields—youth media and creative youth development—into more coordinated action resulting in deeper impact.
Our ultimate goal: inspiring coordinated, creative, collective action that identifies and investigates civic issues facing our country and the world and results in media-based works.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
It is a pleasure to share this report summarizing conversations that took place at a retreat in September 2013 convened by the Youth Media Reporter’s editorial team. The retreat, gathering together fourteen stakeholders from diverse youth media organizations and regions, occurred at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The report, issued on the eve of a youth media pre-conference at the ACM & NAMAC State and Main Conference in Philadelphia, is long overdue but provides nonetheless a record of critical conversations on issues that continue to shape the landscape of the youth media field.
The idea for a small convening of longtime advisors and critical friends of YMR first emerged in Spring 2010, when Steve Goodman, Educational Video Center director, spent three days in residence at Muhlenberg College. Conversations during Steve’s residency shaped our belief that significant shifts in the field demanded collaborative, informed political and cultural analysis, and that Muhlenberg College would be an ideal setting for a retreat to occur.
We did not know at the time that Muhlenberg would become the future institutional home of YMR. But over the next two years, former YMR editor Ingrid Hu Dahl and I worked through a slow transition to move the journal from FHI 360 to Muhlenberg College. Ingrid noted at the time, “That YMR will be led by a team of students at Muhlenberg College ensures that the journal’s evolution will be in the best of hands—inquisitive minds, investigative hopes, determined best practices, and the finger on the pulse of change.”
Situating YMR at Muhlenberg leverages the talents and learning of undergraduate students. A small but dedicated group of students connect their learning and growth to the HYPE youth media program and are transformed through their work with HYPE teens. The journal will benefit from their interest in contributing to the field of youth media as they take up roles as article editors, researchers, book reviewers, and help increase YMR’s ability to leverage social media to broaden awareness of and connectivity throughout the field.
Early in 2013, Muhlenberg College provided a welcoming site for a youth media retreat bringing together a small group of leaders representing a diverse range of youth media and media arts organizations for two days of intensive discussions. The group was intentionally small, gathering not with the purpose of setting an agenda for the field, but to think about YMR’s role in the field. The participants were longtime practitioners, organizers, scholars and supporters of youth media, interested in various and allied efforts to build the field and its visibility with and through YMR. Our face-to-face gathering provided a much desired and needed opportunity for sustained conversation, collective inquiry, and planning around key issues facing youth media. A premise of the retreat’s organization was that youth media scholarship and youth media practice will benefit from greater mutual exposure. Some participants were returning to a conversation started in 2009, others were new to the table—and some are part of the youth media pre-conference occurring at the ACM & NAMAC National Conference in Philadelphia, August 6-8, 2014.
Mapping the Field
When we gathered together nearly a year ago, we were especially interested to map some of the major and still evolving transformations within the landscape of youth media since YMR’s previous 2009 retreat and since its last publication in 2010. The nature and scope of change has yet to be fully defined, but some broad significant shifts are notable:
New types of media—digital, social, networked—and new media practices are increasingly central to many youth media experiences.
New regional networks of youth media programs have emerged, providing new models of strategic partnership and alliance and new pathways for youth leadership in the field.
An emergent national youth media network gaining membership and momentum and defining its role within the field and in relation to other field building resources.
While many innovative new programs focused on digital technologies are multiplying, a number of flagship youth media programs have closed or are struggling to keep their doors open.
Key intermediary organizations—NAMAC, NAMLE, ACM—have become more central to efforts to ally with, build and sustain the youth media field, and a National Youth Media Network has emerged to help create stronger connections within the field.
Much of our retreat dialogue explored these critical developments, trying to understand their roots and implications, and sharing effective strategies for responding to them. The following questions framed our discussions, as part of a broad exploration of how – if at all – to define the field and how our various definitions might serve our collective progress.
What is the current state of the youth media field? Where do we see it going and how do we continue to evolve as a field while maintaining the principles and values in which youth media is anchored? Are there shifts in the principles and values informing youth media education and practice and what do these shifts mean?
How are definitions and practices of youth media changing and what economic, political and cultural forces are shaping these changes?
How are the changing state of the fields of education and afterschool (or out-of-school time) impacting the state of youth media, and impacting youth?
Where are there intersections and creative tensions between youth media and “digital media learning” and “connected learning” approaches highlighted and promoted by major current funding initiatives? Are there meaningful distinctions between these concepts and practices?
How can youth media leaders and allies have a stronger, more unified voice at the broad funding level? How can youth media leaders craft effective strategies to help shape alternative futures for the field?
Our goals for our short time together were ambitious and, in retrospect, beyond the scope of what was possible to address in just two short days. But these goals will continue to inform YMR in its role as a field building journal and resource:
To gather diverse perspectives on the state of youth media today and on its possible futures.
To create an agenda for YMR that identifies key questions and themes that will shape and organize upcoming issues.
To sketch out a concept paper for working with allies to imagine and build youth media alternatives that place the value of youth voices and civic participation at the center.
To map recent research in or related to the field that has inspired or helped us to think about our work in new ways.
To identify core competencies of the national intermediaries (NAMAC, NAMLE, ACM) and discuss how these can be called upon to support the youth media sector.
To explore new potential allies in intersecting fields who might help youth media leaders advance and deepen our work.
To consider models and strategies for organizing a larger, youth inclusive youth media conference.
Participants were asked to reflect on developments within the field that are engaging their time, capturing their focus, and currently driving their work. The responses were wide-ranging but some broad themes rose to the surface of our robust discussions and at times animated debates:
Connecting youth voices to community organizing issues and supporting youth as they become more actively engaged in their communities.
Field-building dialogues and partnerships with schools, libraries, the tech sector, community colleges, and other media arts and education institutions.
Shifts in landscape for funding and support.
New media frameworks, including video games and app development, intersecting with longstanding youth media engagement with radio, video, and print media.
Among the topics that retreat attendees identified as priorities for collective inquiry and attention, nothing resonated as strongly as the need and desire for strengthening the national youth media field. A strong, connected field will help youth media organizations collectively:
Increase the visibility of youth media expertise in broad narratives about digital media and learning currently trending and driven by MacArthur’s DML initiative.
Share information and innovation to promote the collective interests of youth media organizations.
Find allies and collaborating partners – in formal and informal education sectors — who are resisting the trends in their fields and institutions that deny youth voice and agency.
Navigate youth media’s identity and location in emerging new/transmedia spaces and keeping youth voice and critical social engagement at the center of what we do.
Defining Youth Media
Throughout our two days, participants frequently returned to questions about the definition of youth media. How do we define our organizations, practices, and purposes in a 21st century landscape requiring us to wear multiple hats? While our goal was not to arrive at or impose a singular definition to capture (or control) the array of innovation and activity that identifies itself with youth media, we did challenge ourselves and each other to clarify what we think we are talking about when we talk about youth media.
Youth media work is interdisciplinary and practice oriented, combining pedagogies and scholarship with efforts to improve the lives (and life chances) of youth and the communities in which they live. We might usefully think of our work as varied currents, flowing in similar directions, rather than converging together into a single stream. But it was clear from our retreat discussions that there is significant and meaningful overlap and confluence apparent in our missions, values, and practices.
The retreat emphasized that youth media’s strengths are amplified by drawing on the combined resources of multiple lenses, and its power in practice is enhanced by partnerships with diverse coalitions, goals, and visions. The retreat also highlighted that at times we bring different motivations to the work, which are no doubt shaped by the particular histories and contexts in which we work: intellectual conviction, civic responsibility, community media, youth advocacy, human rights, arts advocacy, etc. But we did come to some agreement—perhaps tentative and fragile—that our work embraces a common value orientation rooted in care for the lives, learning, expressions, voices, and opportunities of young people. Surfacing in our discussions was a collective belief in the importance of free and fair access to communicative and expressive opportunities for youth and a commitment to advancing the field. Some of our conversation intentionally pushed back against the kinds of ideological line drawing around what constitutes “real” youth media, and chose instead to keep clearly in sight some loosely agreed upon goals and principles, especially the following:
Youth media is critical to the broader media democracy movement
Youth media is youth activism
Youth media provides space for a kind of learning that typically doesn’t occur during school in an era of high stakes testing and assessment
Youth media is dynamic and differentiated in practice and form but builds on some common ground
Topics for Further Discussion
Our time was short and we were acutely aware of the need for more opportunities for sustained conversation. In particular, participants desired more time for thinking and planning collectively around the following issues and priorities:
Organizing a youth-inclusive retreat
Assessment (in particular a longitudinal study of youth media participants and educators to measure impact)
Professional development for the next generation of youth media educators
Engaging youth media alumni to help tell the story of youth media’s impact
Sustainable funding models in an era of grant scarcity
Developing a long-term vision and strategy for youth media
Bring the experience and voice of the field more powerfully to bear on national discussions of digital media learning and literacy
Strategizing youth media’s presence online—a clearinghouse or hub both for youth produced work and also ongoing dialogue among educators, leaders, practitioners, scholars
Responses to a post-retreat survey provide helpful information for thinking about and shaping future gatherings. The issues and topics participants identified as “most important” include:
Developing multiple models for sustainability without sacrificing mission
Strategizing to make youth media more visible
Mentoring emerging leaders in the field
Participants considered the retreat successful in providing “space for conversation and collective thinking” but missed greater opportunity for more focused “planning around key issues.” Identifying and mapping key issues in advance of the retreat using online collaboration tools would create more face to face time during the retreat to focus on planning. These responses suggest that youth media retreats that aim to engage participants in planning provide both pre-retreat resources and activities, and facilitation during the retreat that is tightly focused on planning and defining action steps. Overall, the value participants found in this retreat included:
Community building with limited distractions
Relationship building and thought sharing
Encounter with a diversity of voices around the table
Seeing youth media work (youth-produced videos) in conversation with each other
YMR and Field Building
The two-day retreat generated a range of vital suggestions and questions for rebuilding YMR. Participants shared their particular interest in seeing YMR evolve to provide the following kinds of resources and connections of value to the field:
Use YMR to establish deeper connections with education schools to help in teacher professional development.
Share best practices and experiences to learn from colleagues in diverse communities and organizations.
Retreat attendees universally conveyed their interest in supporting YMR in a variety of capacities—advisory board members, reviewers, editors, writers, and interviewers. Future issues of YMR will certainly feature programs and models innovated by the leaders around the table and their colleagues. All were interested in and dedicated to finding ways to more dynamically include youth media artifacts on the YMR website and perhaps as well a regular column produced by a young person from within a youth media program.
The YMR 2013 retreat was premised on the belief that youth media practice and scholarship benefits from greater mutual exposure. Rather than a synthesis of the youth media field, the retreat provided a panoramic view of an arena of practice drawing from different traditions: media activism, social justice, education, and arts. Our objective was modest: to provide a space, a starting-point, or a point of return if you were around the table in 2009, to long hoped for and long overdue conversations among youth media leaders.
Several developments gave impetus to our gathering, and have since then continued to animate conversations in the field: crises in education, politics, funding, and depending on your perspective, crisis in the field itself. But there are also compelling and positive forces driving the conversation: the emergence of more regional networks; a growing national network; and burgeoning dialogue about the role of key intermediaries supporting the field.
As youth media practitioners and leaders continue to build and sustain those networks and coalitions, it is vital to bear in mind that media reform coalitions—and youth media is the only space where young people contribute to wider media democracy movements—have historically been split apart by internal ideological differences and divisions. One of the many strengths of the youth media field is the multiplicity of views, practices, models, and pedagogies that give shape to the work. While retreats, conferences, face-to-face and virtual gatherings need to continue to provide space for sharing our diverse work, the difficult effort to surface and map our shared strategic goals is also critical to our ongoing field building efforts.
List of Participants
The retreat was purposefully small, bringing together a gathering of longtime supporters and advisors of YMR as well as leaders in the field who are active in national field building efforts. We did not intend to represent the entire range of youth media, nor did we aim to set an agenda for the field. Our hope was to hone our understanding of the efforts required to continue to build the field’s momentum, visibility, and connectivity, and to consider in particular the role of YMR in this ongoing effort. Attendees included:
Co-Director, Healthy Youth Peer Education (HYPE) youth media and leadership program, Allentown, PA. Manager, Senior Year Experience Manager and Learning Assistant, Muhlenberg College. Jenna has lead HYPE since 2007 and launched several service-learning partnerships between HYPE youth and undergraduates at Muhlenberg. She is part of the YMR leadership team. Jenna is currently completing her Masters in Educational Leadership at Lehigh University.
Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz
Program and Member Services Manager, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. Aggie is active in several youth media field building endeavors including providing vital support for launching the National Youth Media Network and its bi-monthly Webinar Connector Sessions. Her documentary film, “Inheritance,” is the 2013 selection for the Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary.
David Cooper Moore David Cooper Moore is a filmmaker and media literacy educator based in Philadelphia, PA. Currently the Program Director of Powerful Voices for Kids, a university-school partnership model from the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, and various K-12 partnerships through the Center for Media and Information Literacy at Temple University. David is on the board of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, serving as chair of the Professional Development committee.
Coordinator of the Philly Youth Media Collaborative (http://pymc.org) and Creative Director of Messages in Motion http://messagesinmotion.com. Laura teaches classes at University of the Arts, and various media arts organizations throughout Philadelphia. She serves on the board of Termite TV Collective.
Founder and Executive Director of the Educational Video Center. Steve is the author of Teaching Youth Media: A Critical Guide to Literacy, Video Production & Social Change (Teachers College Press 2003) and a longtime advisor and contributor to YMR. Steve teaches a course in youth media at New York University.
Director of Membership and Outreach at PhillyCAM, Philadelphia’s public access television station. Antoine is a longtime member of the Youth Media Reporter advisory board and has served on the board of the Alliance for Community Media, Radio Free Georgia.
Ingrid Hu Dahl
Director, Next Generation (youth) programs at Bay Area Area Video Coalition. Ingrid is the past editor-in-chief of Youth Media Reporter and youth media program officer at the Academy for Educational Development. Ingrid lead a National Youth Media Summit in 2009. Prior to BAVC, Ingrid launched a middle grade “Youth Create Media Project” throughout the boroughs in New York City and Newark, NJ and helped found the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls (Brooklyn, NY).
Danielle Martin Knowledge Manager, Intel Computer Clubhouse Network. Danielle is in charge of the knowledge-sharing strategy among all Computer Clubhouses, in collaboration with colleagues at the MIT Media Lab, including the content, community-building and outreach for the Clubhouse Village intranet social network.
Lecturer in History and Media and Communication at Muhlenberg College. Roberta is the founding co-director of HYPE, member of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network Board and long time activist and organizer for civil rights work, youth outreach, and peace efforts in the Lehigh Valley. She teaches courses in media and social movements, African American history, music and the civil rights, and race and representation. Roberta will step into the role of facilitator for the YMR retreat, helping to shape a context for critical, inclusive conversation and goal-directed dialogue.
Working at the intersection of media arts and philanthropy, Alyce served as Media Arts Director, National Endowment for the Arts from 2011-2013, managing NEA grantmaking in film, video, audio, web-based, and other electronic media. Alyce continues to provide a leading voice for the media arts field as a consultant.
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Media and Communication, Muhlenberg College. Lora is the new managing editor of the Youth Media Reporter. She co-directs HYPE and teaches a course in youth media with Jenna Azar. She is the co-editor of Media and Social Justice (Palgrave, 2011).
Lalitha Vasudevan Associate Professor of Technology & Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. Lalitha is the editor of two books exploring youth media: Arts, Media, and Justice: Multimodal Explorations with Youth (with Tiffany DeJaynes; Peter Lang, 2013) and Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility (with Mark Lamont Hill; Peter Lang, 2007). She helped launch the Youth, Media, and Educational Justice Project, a consortium for re-imagining justice for court-involved youth through media making, mentoring, education, and research.
Executive Director, Spy Hop Productions, Salt Lake City. Kasandra is deeply involved in building the field of youth media and is a leading coordinator of the burgeoning National Youth Media Network, which currently organizes online Connector Sessions on issues of importance to the field.
It is a pleasure to reintroduce the Youth Media Reporter – theprofessional, peer-reviewed multi-media journal serving practitioners, educators and scholars in the youth media field. Since the last issue of YMR was published online in February 2011, a few changes have occurred: the journal has a new editor and the website has a new design and format. But YMR’s purpose remains unchanged: to build the youth media field by documenting, from multiple perspectives, the practices, pedagogies and impacts of engaging young people in media making across an array of modes and genres. YMR will continue to publish articles, reports, case studies, interviews and reviews that deepen our understandings of the ways that young people and adult allies create and use media to participate in and shape communities that are more inclusive, more democratic, more just and expressive.
In the last two years, significant shifts have occurred in and around the field of youth media that demand the inquiry and insight YMR has helped provide since 2005. Many stakeholders have worked to ensure the journal’s relaunch. Four leaders in the field were especially instrumental in facilitating YMR’s transition to its new institutional home in the Department of Media & Communication at Muhlenberg College. I inherit my responsibilities as journal editor from the extraordinarily gifted and generous Ingrid Dahl, who shaped and shepherded the journal from 2006-2011. Ingrid continues to help drive the field as Director of Next Gen Programming at Bay Area Video Coalition. Among his many credits in the field, Steve Goodman, Founder / Director of the Educational Video Center, must also be recognized for ensuring YMR’s future.Steve introduced me to Ingrid and the YMR advisory board, and planted the seeds for YMR at Muhlenberg when he spent a week on campus as the inaugural Media Artist in Residence in 2010. Our conversations during his residency inspired the conditions that brought YMR to Muhlenberg.
The process of transitioning and relaunching YMR has also benefitted from support and astute guidance from Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, Program and Communications Director at the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and Kasandra VerBrugghen, Executive Director of Spy Hop Productions and a founding member of the burgeoning National Youth Media Network. Allies in the effort to advance youth media, they have helped YMR stay connected to the critical conversations, projects, and partners currently shaping the field.
Powering this effort is widespread commitment to strengthening the youth media field by sharing research, best practices, diverse experiences and approaches, reviews of scholarship, new pedagogies, and policies impacting the field. And the Department of Media & Communication at Muhlenberg College is a fitting and exciting space for YMR: it is an environment that values youth media, where students can take courses in youth media and conduct research with faculty in the field. But more than that, the department is home to HYPE, an award-winning youth media program for high school students in Allentown. At HYPE, co-directed by Jenna Azar and myself, undergraduates learn and grow through collaborative documentary productions with local participating youth. HYPE teens offer powerful reminders of the vital work we must do to shape, secure and sustain spaces where young people can tell their stories and amplify their voices. This first issue is dedicated to HYPE—to the teens, college students, and collaborating adults—who demonstrate the value, promise, and urgency of youth media.
At YMR, our objective is to create a forum where youth media researchers, program directors, educators and leaders, community media and media arts activists, and youth media makers are in conversation with each other, the wider field and related endeavors. Your contributions to the conversation are vital and we welcome your ideas about how to make YMR more inclusive, more inviting, and more open.