The April 2017 Special Issue


The Editors at YMR are delighted to release this Special Issue, a collaborative project with The Alliance for Media Arts and Culture’s Consulting Producers, Myah Overstreet and Jason Wyman.  Focused on youth media and creative youth development, the issue is inspired by The Alliance’s 50 State Dinner Party Project, exploring our past, present, and future.

The issue has been in the works since November 2016 when YMR and The Alliance joined together to issue a call for proposals for contributions of a variety of forms–poetry, video, audio, research, lesson plans, case studies–exploring the many histories, forms, and possibilities of youth media. The resulting issue, shaped by the vision of guest editor Myah Overstreet, creates space for multiple and expansive expressions of youth produced media.

We’re excited about the ways this Special Issue represents the continued desire for youth media makers, practitioners, educators, artists, and scholars to build a network of relationships and resources that we can engage to support and celebrate youth media programs. At the center of this work are the young people who are leveraging media practices and forms to envision more just, equitable, and sustainable communities. We thank the many contributors to this Special Issue who share their insights, practices, experiences, expertise, histories, and, of course, their desired futures.

When we first set to work on this Special Issue, some of us at YMR were participating in an online reading group focusing on Horton and Freire’s “talking book,” We Make the Road by Walking. To those conversations (archived on Twitter under the hashtag #HortonFreire), we brought perspectives from youth media and offered our experiences with the HYPE youth media program as a site where we intentionally aim to practice the critical pedagogies at the center of this conversation. Dialogue from Horton and Freire began to animate our conversations about youth media, in our youth media course, at HYPE, and in our work on producing the issue.

“..We had to start learning from the people we were working with,
and that we had to learn from each other.” (Horton and Freire, p. 41)

Also as we worked on this Special Issue, in the post-2016 election environment, we brought a sharpened awareness of what is at stake in this moment for critical educators, scholars, media artists and media makers. Works featured in this issue embody the importance of working together in new ways to address all that is at stake.

“As you walk you make the road,
and to look back is to see that never
can we pass this way again.” (Antonio Machado)

Paulo Freire reminds us, “reading has to be a loving event.” We hope that reading and viewing the work in this Special Issue can be just that, as you encounter the voices and visions of individuals and collaborators who are making, and remaking, the many roads of youth media.

View the Issue here

The YMR Editorial Team
Jenna Azar, Tony Dalton, Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, and Lora Taub-Pervizpour
Department of Media and Communication
Muhlenberg College
Allentown, PA

YMR Video Gallery Launch

A unique strength of YMR is that it is a resource that can bring together diverse voices from across the field and across a variety of practices to exchange ideas and contribute to the continued vitality of the youth media sector. Since our re-launch last year and ongoing, we think frequently about how to build upon this strength and contribute to the development of a collective voice.

Inspired in part by the youth media gallery curated for the NAMAC/ACM 2014 National Conference, we began to think of the new YMR website as not only a site for reflecting on youth media practices, but also as a site for sharing the wide array of youth media artifacts and products, the viewing of which is in itself an opportunity for reflection. Using the Huzzaz platform, we are proud to announce the launch of the YMR Video Gallery, a central space on the YMR website to collect and distribute films produced by young people in youth media programs across the country:

This gallery allows us to bring together films and voices from a variety of perspectives and practices, and it invites youth and youth media programs into conversation with one another’s work. If you’re interested, for example, in films on gender equality, you can visit the gallery page, find the gender equality category and watch films reflecting on this theme in a variety of ways, informed as each film is by the unique contexts in which it was developed. 

We believe that a centralized space for sharing and accessing each other’s work is a useful tool for the field, and we would love to hear your thoughts on how to optimize this utility.

Help us build the gallery and presence of youth media artifacts on YMR.  Please send YouTube or Vimeo links to

Spotlight on Spy Hop: PitchNic Prepares Young Filmmakers for Media Careers

In her article in this issue, “The Chicago Track Creates A Bridge To the Professional Media World,” Lucia Palmarini calls attention to the diverse ways that Free Spirit Media is creating professional development and networking experiences for young media makers considering careers in film and media. Data gathered by Kathleen Tyner in her report, “Mapping the Field of Youth Media,” further demonstrate the importance of career development in youth media programming with 65% of responding organizations indicating that preparing youth for careers in media is central to their mission. Beyond the increasing pressures on youth media organizations to provide professional training, we also recognize the field’s long history of helping young people develop the creative skills and practices valued in the creative media and technology industries.

This short spotlight presents another example of a youth media organization that is trying to provide pathways into professional media careers. Spy Hop’s PitchNic is a model professionalization program in Salt Lake City, Utah, where experienced youth media makers participate in more extensive engagement with filmmaking practices including networking, production, and distribution. Conceived in 2001 as an innovative way of bringing together young filmmakers with real production resources, Spy Hop’s PitchNic empowers young filmmakers to see themselves as independent filmmakers by immersing them in a yearlong intensive professional filmmaking curriculum. Each year, a small number of students write, shoot, and edit a 20-minute film. They also have the unique experience of pitching their story ideas to a panel of film professionals. Through this process, the panel of professionals select six pitches to advance to a final round, which are then narrowed down to four final films by the class. As teams of three—a director, producer, and cinematographer—learn first-hand how to create a professional-caliber film, they are guided and mentored by Shannalee Otanez and Joshua Samson, both accomplished professional filmmakers.

The films produced at PitchNic have screened at over 30 festivals internationally, including Sundance Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival. The most recent PitchNic films premiered in November 2014 at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre, a sold-out event that drew outstanding coverage in the Utah Review. In his enthusiastic review, writer/blogger and art lover Les Roka highlighted the passionate young filmmakers’ accomplishments and growth: “To the delight of an audience that asked plenty of questions after each film was screened, the students, working with mentors Josh Samson and Shannalee Otanez, demonstrated just how their creative work serves to stimulate and sustain enlightened views leading to social and cultural awareness and even change.”

To learn more about this program and view their impressive work, see the PitchNic Vimeo channel here.

See a 10-Year Retrospective here.

Shaping the Digital Pen: Media Literacy, Youth Culture, and MySpace

David Kirkland, New York University
New technologies and online social communities have changed how youth practice literacy. However, many literacy classrooms seem detached from such changes. To help bridge this divide, I offer youth media educators the example of Derrick, a student who participated in an “ethnography of literacy” I conducted from 2003 to 2006. By analyzing three texts that appeared prominently on Derrick’s MySpace page, I seek to broaden notions of literacy, situating them in the current culture of technology where youth media literacies thrive. I also attempt to address a larger question of what Derrick’s example means for youth media education. In addressing this question, I hope to accompany youth media educators into an exciting textual universe that, by its very nature, challenges deficit assumptions about students and narrow ideas about literacy and its processes.
Download David Kirkland’s article here

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In Briefs
Summaries relevant to youth media from the news: 2005 to present. Note: not all links within In-Briefs remain live.


All About the Media
Media reform, public media, and youth in the media, for better and worse

Working With Young People
Resources and reflections on youth work, youth development, and teaching

Building the Youth Media Field and Organizations
Fund-raising, professional development, and big-picture thinking about youth media

Getting Seen and Heard
Marketing and Distributing Youth Media

Teens’ Relationship with Technology and the Media

Making a Difference
Youth Media as Activism

Media Education and Media Literacy

First Amendment Issues