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About Youth Media Reporter

Youth Media Reporter (YMR) is the professional multi-media journal that serves practitioners, educators and academics in the youth media field. YMR’s purpose is to build the field by documenting, from multiple perspectives, the insights and leading lessons in engaging young people in video, film, television, radio, music, web, art, and print. YMR offers insight to the degree that young people and their adult allies use media to make a difference, address a point, enhance creative imagination, and match leadership with voice. YMR engages a variety of stakeholders to define issues, pedagogies, and challenges to the youth media field.
Incubated at Open Society Institute and managed by the Academy for Educational Development, YMR is a multi-media web journal that publishes 6-8 high quality articles every other month. In an aim to serve the field, YMR provides professional development for each contributor as they document and investigate their work, and those of their peers, through a rigorous editorial review process. YMR serves as a model to increase and share knowledge production, building a community of learners. Our articles increasingly uncover tensions within the field and spotlight youth media across the U.S. and abroad. YMR is currently funded by Open Society Institute, the McCormick Foundation, and paid subscribers.
YMR receives an average of 20,000 visits per month—a number that has been increasing by 1,500 additional visitors each month—and has over 2,000 subscribers to its monthly newsletter. The annual print journal is contracted with EBSCO, and in the near future JSTOR, databases (a resource to university libraries and public schools), broadening our audience and readership.
YMR releases on the 15th of every other month, publishing an average of 45 articles on-line divided into 6 issues per year.
Not Just a Web Journal | We do Print
Annually, the journal is bound in print form, which showcases 8-10 special feature articles unavailable online. The first volume of the print journal is available to download as a PDF online. All other volumes available via paid suscription.

To subscribe

click here.
The annual print journal combines all web released issues with “special features” articles. These articles dig deep and broad within the youth media field. In 2008, 700 copies of YMR’s first annual print journal were sent at no cost—in order to introduce the publication—to approximately 60% academics and 40% youth media practitioners. We believe that YMR’s presence in academic environments will create career pipelines into the youth media field for college students interested in journalism, film, media studies, and related departments.
YMR’s Audience
Youth media professionals, leaders, and practitioners are YMR’s audience, which is expanding into new and intersecting fields nationally and around the globe. The publication offers media professionals a forum to share information, reflect on work done in the field, develop practice, ascertain new approaches and pedagogy, and celebrate youth led social change. Recognizing that many youth media practitioners come from a variety of fields, YMR includes all perspectives, viewpoints, and topics.
If you are interested in the lives and views of young people, this publication is a window into a dynamic field that reflects and reinforces the values of the media, arts, advocacy, activism, social justice, education, and youth development communities.
Through YMR, professionals in these fields can explore youth media as a way to strengthen their work, collaborate with youth and colleagues, and gain inspiration to use new strategies and perspectives.

In addition to housing the YMR publication, the website features:

  • Comment features for individuals to respond to, and discuss issues raised by, articles in each issue;
  • Ideas for building capacity and sustainability for organizations with youth, media, arts, social activism, leadership, and civic engagement;
  • Best practices, reflection, information, and research that can be used to bridge difference, begin dialogue, network between media professionals and youth media artists/activists, and to train staff and educate funders about the field;
  • Organization links, upcoming conferences, and documents related to, or reporting from, the youth media field.

    YMR’s Peer Review Board 2010
    YMR is guided by 12 peer review board members who divide into YMR’s Media, Marketing, Editorial and Executive “Crews.” These members are:
    • Sanjay Asthana, Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, TN)
    • Tom Bailey, Community Television Network (Chicago, IL)
    • Joe Douilette, Institute for Contemporary Art (Boston, MA)
    • Joellen Fisherkeller, New York University (New York, NY)
    • Judy Goldberg, Youth Media Project (Santa Fe, NM)
    • Antoine Haywood, People TV Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
    • Jamilah King, Colorlines (San Francisco, CA)
    • Janet Liao, McCormick Foundation (Chicago, IL)
    • Jen Maccerelli, Global Action Project (New York, NY)
    • Anna Tauzin, J-Lab (Washington, D.C.)
    • Elisabeth Soep, Youth Radio (Oakland, CA)
    • Lynn Sygiel, Y-Press (Indianapolis, IN)

    Many thanks to previous Peer Review Board members
    • Tim Dorsey, Youth Media Learning Network (New York, NY)
    • Tonya Gonzalez, DCTV (Washington, DC)
    • Lynda McDonnell, Three-Sixty Journalism (Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN)
    • Sara Melillo, McCormick Foundation (Chicago, IL)
    • Padmini Narumanchi, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking (Brooklyn, NY)
    • Minh Nguyen, VALA-NO (New Orleans, LA)
    • Rebecca O’Doherty, Appalshop, Inc (Whitesburg, KY)
    • Rashid Shabazz, Open Society Institute (New York, NY)
    • Katina Paron, Children’s Press Line (New York, NY)
    • Irene Tostado, Radio Arte (Chicago, IL)
    • Meghan McDermott, Global Action Project (New York, NY)
    • Lisa Tripp, School of Media and Youth Services, Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
    • Kirthi Nath, BAVC (San Franscisco, CA)
    • Anindita Dutta Roy, iEarn/Pearl World Youth News (New York, NY)
    • Anna Kelly, VOX Teen Communications (Atlanta, GA)
    • Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Movement Strategy Center (Oakland, CA)
    • Sam Chaltain, Five Freedoms Project (Washington, D.C.)
    • Twa-le Abrahamson, Native Youth Media/Shawl Society (Spokane, WA)
    • Renee Hobbs, Broadcasting and Mass Media at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)

    Youth Media Reporter
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    Youth Media Reporter is funded by Open Society Institute and the McCormick Foundation

    Youth Media Reporter is managed by the Academy for Educational Development

  • Winning Control

    “Temple University researchers have developed a new Web site for teenage and ‘tween’ girls who spend much of their time surfing the Internet, watching MTV, looking at teen and celebrity magazines and listening to music CDs,” Pioneer Press reports. On the site, girls learn about media literacy by playing online games.
    “Creators of the Web site hope it will give girls ‘an understanding that ‘stuff’ doesn’t just appear on the TV screen. There has been conscious, calculated construction of the media messages that are constantly delivered to them,’ said Renee Hobbs, director of the Media Education Lab and an associate professor of communication. The point is to raise a generation of media-savvy kids who control their media worlds, and not the other way around, she says.”


    “Children are affected by most of the top stories covered by journalists today—from HIV/AIDS to environmental disasters,” the International Journalists’ Network (IJN) reports. But too often their perspective is missingn “unless young people have the opportunity to actively practice journalism. Moreover, when youth gain experience reporting, news organizations are able to recruit skilled local talent.
    Join IJN’s discussion board about what opportunities young people around the world have to report on the issues important to them, and how to encourage young people to get involved.

    Strength in Numbers

    numbers_150.jpgWhen I started working in youth media, it took me several months to discover a powerful but rarely discussed practice in the field. My first week editing Represent, a magazine written by and for teens in foster care, I received a large stack of articles, all edited for publication. My task was to decide which stories should appear in which upcoming issues of the magazine.
    They were mostly personal stories detailing young writers’ struggles growing up in New York City and in foster care: surviving sexual abuse, getting caught up in gang life, the stigma of being labeled a “foster child.” There were also some happy ones—the joy of basketball, finding family in a group home, a first love. In several, teens used their personal experiences to make arguments for change—how the foster care system should be reformed, for instance, or why special education doesn’t work. But as I started talking with the adults working in child welfare who read the magazine, it was apparent that they considered a writer’s recommendations for change as merely representative of one teen’s point of view, not to be taken very seriously. They read the magazine for its emotional truths, not for its policy recommendations.
    After a few months of “curating” issues of the magazine I began instinctively organizing the stories around themes. Journalistically, themes did a more responsible job of providing the magazine’s teen readers with balanced information. A story about one teen’s decision to have an abortion provided readers only a small window into the options for pregnant young women. But a half-issue on teen pregnancy with diverse personal stories by teens who had become pregnant and made different decisions they thought were right for them, gave our readers a far more thorough perspective on the topic.
    I soon noticed an unexpected perk to publishing thematically: Grouping stories by themes prompted adults to take the writers’ suggestions for change far more seriously.
    A child welfare expert requested 200 copies of our issue on homelessness to distribute at a conference on runaway prevention. A law school used our issue on family court to train lawyers on how to work with young people. An education advocacy group used our issue on getting an education in foster care when preparing a report. This would not have happened had the stories in these issues run separately. They had far more power collectively than they did apart.
    I have since learned of youth media groups in all genres—print, online, radio, film, photography—that organize their media around themes. Sometimes they consciously do it to amplify the impact of their young people’s work. Other times they’re cornered into producing themes by funders, who sometimes fund media about specific topics of their choosing, like drug use prevention, or teen activism. Either way, when used sensitively the technique is extremely effective.
    The Bay Area-based Youth Radio won the prestigious Murrow Award from the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) for its thematic radio series that aired on National Public Radio, “Reflections on Return,” featuring voices of young soldiers returning from Iraq. Part of the series’ power is that it provided a youth perspective on the war, said RTNDA chairman Dan Shelley. But it was the sheer range of voices included in the series—a young Iraq veteran who suffered a devastating throat injury in the war; a soldier reunited with his girlfriend after returning from Iraq; a young man with PTSD—that made audiences pay attention.

    ’s compilation of videos produced by young people from around the world, including a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, aired on the Independent Film Channel nearly 20 times the first month of its release. “It never would have been shown on the Independent Film Channel if it was just one piece, if it was just one group of kids in one country,” said Mindy Faber, who has curated numerous compilations of youth media and now runs Faultline Media Services. “It was the way it was packaged thematically around this idea of struggle and overcoming challenge from a global youth perspective that allowed it to have an audience beyond small local audiences.”
    And numerous film festivals featuring youth-produced media have found that adults who may not show up to a screening simply to support teens will show up if they’re interested in the theme the media explores. This applies even when the theme itself is “youth voice”—the importance of providing opportunities for teens to be listened to.
    “Smart, curatorial work,” says Faber, is a powerful tool for building not only audience, but also democracy. “Different perspectives help people negotiate an issue, and that’s something we need to do in any society—to listen to people who have different ideas and experiences and different forms of knowledge and take that information in. The whole democratic process is about this,” says Faber. “Thematically-based, contextualized discussions through media is a great way to do it.”

    Smart, curatorial work is a powerful tool for building not only audience, but also democracy.

    But what is it like for young people to see their personal narratives—the ones they deliberated over for months—suddenly packaged as part of a larger issue? Might it feel like their personal struggles have been co-opted? Has too much control been taken away from the media maker, allowing adults, not youth, to set the agenda?
    It depends how it’s done, said Natasha Santos, 18, a Represent writer. When she first started writing for the magazine nearly four years ago, Santos liked to know ahead of time which themes her stories would be part of. Though she has since come to trust her editor to curate sensitively, even now she sometimes worries that a thematic packaging might prompt readers to interpret her stories in ways she did not intend: If published in an issue on drug use, for instance, will her article exploring her curiosity about drugs make her appear on the verge of addiction? But Santos also says that in all her time writing for Represent, she has not felt misrepresented by the way her stories were packaged. One of her recent stories published as part of an issue exploring anger. “It was interesting. It made me feel good to be like, ‘Hmmm…I’m not the only one who feels that way,’” says Santos, “but also not so special, because my story really was so like everyone else’s.”
    Linda Rodriguez still remembers the recognition she felt in 2000 when her editor and I published her first story for Represent, “How to Get to La La Land: Reflections on getting high and the rough ride back to earth,” as part of a thematic issue on drugs. Linda had intended her story, which walked the reader through the steps of getting high, to be funny, edgy, and entertaining, “like a sit-com,” remembers Rodriguez. Nothing more. But published alongside a reported story about drugs in group homes, a narrative by a teen struggling through rehab, and a story by a parent who lost her child to foster care after becoming addicted to crack, Rodriguez saw her own article anew.
    “It was like a light that switched on,” she remembers. “It gave my story more meaning than I actually gave it credit for when I was writing it. What I picked up from all the stories in the issue was mine was really about that feeling of despair, and not knowing where to look, this sadness, like you’re sitting in dirty bath water. Next to the other stories it gave me the feeling of, ‘Man, there’s something going on here, and we’ve got to do something about this.’”
    She’s been writing ever since.

    Continue reading Strength in Numbers

    On Their Bookshelves


    Shaping Media Education for Schools

    Linda Johnson spoke with YMR about how the Bay Area-based Streetside Stories brings youth media to schools. For help creating media arts curricula that work in the classroom, Johnson turns to The Teaching for Understanding Guide by Tina Blythe and Associates. It shows educators how to “define what is important for them to teach, and then to teach it so students can understand it,” said Johnson.
    Streetside Stories uses the guide to teach teachers how to develop their own media education curricula that meets the educational standards required in California, where Streetside Stories operates.

    Making Youth Programs Work

    When Phillips Community Television (PCTV) in Minneapolis completed a two-year study of its program impact, executive director John Gwinn documented what his staff discovered for YMR. For further reading on how youth programs work, Gwinn recommends Urban Sanctuaries: Neighborhood Organizations in the Lives and Futures of Inner-City Youth, by Milbrey McLaughlin, Merita Irby, and Juliet Langman. Drawing from a five-year study of six unidentified inner-city youth programs in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the Southeast, the authors examine strategies that visionaries at urban youth organizations use to make their programs thrive, despite significant challenges. “It’s over 10 years old now but still a good read,” wrote Gwinn in an email.

    The Case for Youth Media

    Youth media practitioners wanting to deepen their work will find inspiration in Fugitive Culture: Race, Violence, and Youth, by Henry A. Giroux, says Mindy Faber, who wrote about media distribution. Not for the faint of heart, this “very academic, very theoretical text takes an unflinching look at how society denies young people their voices,” says Faber, “and how that, in turn, affects the policies determining youth’s lives.” Exploring how the media, in particular, casts, and often criminalizes, young people—especially youth of color—the book indirectly makes a case for why young people must make their own media. Youth media practitioners will finish the book motivated to center their work on helping young people see how they are represented in the media, says Faber, “and how they can to reposition themselves and take control of their own images.”
    Ultimately, says Faber, this can change the way the world views, values, and protects generations to come.

    Continue reading On Their Bookshelves

    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.”