3rd International Youth Media Summit

Media Education Centre invites organizations, schools and other institutions working with media to nominate two young media enthusiasts 15-22 years old to participate during August 20th to 27th in Belgrade, Serbia. The young participants must be candidates as Student Filmmaker and Student Diplomat.
This Summit will continue the work started in 2006, and will incorporate changes based on last year’s feedback from the first (Los Angeles) and second (Sydney) Summit. One of these changes will be a greater emphasis on developing media production skills. Also, the student delegates will be broadcasting on a daily basis via Serbian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio, internet Radio, podcasting and vodcasting…
We are asking those countries with the ability to raise the necessary funds to provide their own airfare to Belgrade, Serbia. Any funds raised by 3rd IYMS organizers will be used to pay part of airfares for delegates from economically disadvantaged regions, or countries facing humanitarian challenges.
* All delegates must be 15- 22 years old being represented by a recognized media program at a school, arts and/or cultural non for profit Non Government Organization. (We are looking for delegates who will continue to advocate, addressing Summit issues locally, regionally, nationally and internationally at all times.
* Student delegates will need to complete their initial assignments and submit them to 3rd IYMS organizers.
* You will also need to fill out an application. On the application, you will find directions for those requesting financial help for plane fare.
* Adults wishing to take part in Summit 2008 should fill out an application and address the professional capacities in which they can mentor/supervise students.
* Please start to research what you will need to do for a visa to Serbia, and the timeline.
* To insure that the Summit can cover some expenses: a registration fee of $300US (€220) is required per participants upon their acceptance.
Please note that 3rd IYMS will provide local transport within the Belgrade Airport and Youth Hostel situated at the centre of Belgrade, Training and Facilitation by industry professionals as well as accommodation including Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for the duration of the summit.
At the moment we have applicants from: Armenia (2); Australia; Austria; Bangladesh; Canada; Croatia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Israel; India ; Japan; Kenya; Italy (2); Liberia; Mexico; Montenegro; Nepal; New Zealand; Palestine; South Africa; South Korea; Serbia (2); Slovenia; Sweeden (2); The Netherlands; UK; UK Scotland; USA (4)…..
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any more information. We are looking forward for friends, presenters and sponsors of the 3rd Summit in the year 2008.
Yours truly,
Miomir Rajcevic
3rd Summit Coordinator

Job Opening at Knight Foundation: Online Community Manager

We have a new, innovative and exciting job opening here at the John S.
and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami: We are seeking a digital media
maven who will create for Knight a vibrant online discussion community
focused on journalism excellence, communities and issues of systemic
The Online Community Manager will serve with others as Knight’s eyes,
ears and voice in the blogosphere. S/he will attract, facilitate and
moderate user-generated content on Knight’s web sites, and increase
online visibility of a foundation that is dedicated to shaping how the
digital revolution will impact the future of journalism and communities.
The successful candidate lives and breathes the blogosphere, with
exceptional communications and writing skills. A track record in
creating lively and engaged online audiences and community is key. While
this position requires communications more than technical skills,
proficiency in creating and managing user-generated web content is
The attached summary describes this opportunity. Please share this
information with colleagues and friends who might be both qualified and
intrigued. They can visit www.knightfdn.org
for further information about Knight, our work and this position.
Interested candidates should email their resumes and links to examples
of their work to careers@knightfdn.org .
Resumes should not be sent to me.
We’ve posted a Youtube video to give anybody interested a sense of what
Knight is like as a workplace. The video is at
www.kflinks.com/ocmanager. Note our great views of Miami Beach.
Marc Fest
Director of Communications
Office Tel.: (305) 908-2677 | Fax: (786) 924-2977
e-mail: fest@knightfdn.org
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Writing the Story of Transformation
200 South Biscayne Blvd., Suite 3300, Miami, Fla. 33131-2349
For more on the Knight Brothers’ foundation and transformational change,
go to http://www.knightfdn.org/annual.


Second Annual Critical Race Studies in Education Conference

May 16-17, 2008
The University of Illinois at Chicago

Critical race theorists have increasingly challenged the education community to more fully consider the processes, structures, practices and policies that create and promote persistent racial inequalities in education and in the broader society. For example, they have demanded that the “achievement gap” be viewed, along with other gaps in income, housing, employment etc. as a consequence of racism. While these analyses have proliferated and scholars of color have managed to publish their work with prestigious educational journals and book presses, there has been little iscussion about how to develop a critical race praxis in education that might have transformative possibilities. This conference is designed to bring together scholars, activists, educators, students and community members who are concerned about the persistence of racial inequalities in education and in the broader society. The conference organizers invite papers that document scholarship, teaching, activist work at the local level, and community organizing efforts aimed at transforming racist practices, policies and systems in schools and in the broader society. More specifically, your proposal should address one of the following sub-categories:
1) Engendering Justice and Critiquing Systems of Oppression for Black and Latino Youth (Facilitated by David Stovall, UIC)
2) Life in Schools: Critical Counterstories and Testimonios by and about Urban Teachers (Facilitated by Tara Yosso, University of California at Santa Barbara)
3) The Apartheid of Knowledge in Higher Education (Facilitated by Lynette Danley, University of Utah)
4) Critical Conceptual or Empirical Analyses of the Links between Race, Class and/or Gender and Sexuality (Facilitated by Michelle Jay at the University of South Carolina and Theodorea Berry, The American College of Education, Chicago)
5) The Globalization of Racism and White Supremacy in the new world order (Facilitated by Marvin Lynn, UIC & Danny Martin, UIC)
Proposals should include the following:
* A cover page which includes title of paper, as well as name,
affiliation, contact information, and a 100 word abstract
* No more than a 1000 word descriptive summary that should include:
1. A theoretical framework section that shows how the paper draws from Critical Race Theory
2. An explanation of the methods (empirical, conceptual or theoretical) and a summary of the results.
3. A conclusion and educational significance section that illustrates how and why the topic is important and worthwhile for improving or transforming education for racially marginalized youth
Criteria for Evaluating Proposals
* Connection to CRT
* Quality of Writing and Organization
* Overall Contribution to the Field of Critical Race Studies in Education
Please go to: http://education.uic.edu/events.cfm?
page=critical_race to
register or contact UIC Department of Curriculum & Instruction Secretary, Sharon Earthely at earthely@uic.edu or at 312-996-4508 in order to register by phone.
> Marvin Lynn, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor
> Director of Elementary Education
> Department of Curriculum and Instruction, MC 147
> University of Illinois at Chicago
> 1040 W. Harrison St.
> 3030 EPASW
> Chicago, IL 60607
> Phone: 312-355-0568
> Fax: 312-996-8134

UNICEF-VOY Radio Drama Competition

The Unite for Child Survival Radio Drama Competition is an opportunity
to help people pay attention, get involved, take creative action and
unite to help children in their communities
survive and thrive. Young people are invited to send in a written script
for a radio drama. Radio scripts will be reviewed by an international
panel who will select eight finalists, one
from each region, and one winner, who will be featured on the UNICEF
website. The winning script will be produced and broadcast on UNICEF radio.
Please send your radio script, personal information and plot summary
before 15 December 2007 to the Voices of Youth Mailbox: voy@unicef.org
or for more information, please see

New York Women in Film & Television Scholarship

Through the generosity of Loreen Arbus, New York Women in Film and
Television is offering a $2,500 scholarship for a woman with a physical
disability who is studying film, television or communications in the
Tri-State area.
The funds may be used for tuition and fees for a college, university or
established training program in the moving image media or for production
costs for a student film or video project.
To apply for the scholarship, send a resume and a written 2-4-page
description of your current work and goals as a filmmaker. If funds will be
used for a film or video project, and a work-in-progress is available, a DVD
should be included.
Applications should be sent to:
New York Women in Film and Television
Loreen Arbus Scholarship
6 East 39th Street, Suite 1200
New York, NY 10016.
The deadline for application is Friday, November 30, 2007. If you have any
questions, please call Administrative Director Sue Marcoux at 212-679-0870, ext. 25.

Continue reading New York Women in Film & Television Scholarship

Youth Media Educators Forum at NAMAC

At the NAMAC Conference “The Frontier is Here” in Austin, TX, a two-part Youth Media Educators Forum was organized to provide an opportunity for youth media educators to network, identify needs and interests of each attending organization, and discuss issues specific to the work of youth media educators.
The two part forum was sponsored by Youth Media Reporter, Global Action Project, Youth Media Learning Network and Listen Up!
Educators representing approximately twenty organizations across the U.S. (including Appalshop, Reel Girls, Twin Cities Media Network, BAVC, St. Paul’s Neighborhood Network, and Wide Angle) participated in open dialogue (similar to what Steve Goodman and Diana Coryat call for in the 2004 OSI white paper “Developing the Youth Media Field”), reflecting on emerging trends, updates and best practices, and face time with colleagues.
Topics ranged from the importance of inter-generational dialogue in the field, defining youth (teens of up to 25), online distribution, archiving material, incorporating more face time with other organizations, after school partnerships, art vs. technology, social and media justice, the role of the educator with youth producers, storytelling, making media accessible and translatable, and funding opportunities.
If you would like to be a part of organizing future Youth Media Educators Forums or start a forum of your own, feel free to contact me at idahl@aed.org.

this month’s youth media professional

A passionate baseball enthusiast and a devoted community advocate, Irene was born and raised on the Southwest Side of Chicago in a community that was de-gentrified by an influx of Latino residents. Her parents were born and raised in Mexico, met in Chicago and settled here in their late teens.
Irene grew up speaking only Spanish until third grade when she was enrolled in an English speaking class and was left with no choice but to learn the language. Introduced to journalism and video production in high school, she pursued a degree in Communications, Sociology, and Spanish at Loyola University Chicago, and Spanish while balancing a steady part-time employment as a Guest Coordinator at the White Sox’s baseball stadium and as intern at WRTE 90.5 fm Radio Arte Chicago.
While enrolled in Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL), she coordinated an evaluation project that involved the Native American community in the Uptown region of Chicago, the Native American Health Center and Mayor Richard Daley’s Domestic Violence HELP Hotline.
In 2000, a devastating encounter between immigration officials and her family encouraged her to pursue a career in immigration law and advocacy. Immediately after the incident, she became involved with the immigration movement, passing out petitions to keep families from being separated, and organizing to raise awareness among Latinos about changing legislation which would affect immigrants considering becoming residents in the near future.
Irene continues educating undocumented immigrants of all ethnicities through a monthly column for “Extra Newspaper”, providing weekly articles on sports and local events for “La Raza” newspaper and producing two “live” radio programs- “Without Borders” on Radio Arte and “STEREOTIPO” on La Kalle 103.1 and 93.5 FM in Chicago. The latter disseminates information to urban Latino youth and provides an outlet, otherwise absent, for them to clarify stereotypes and speak about the experiences that they encounter, including sex, gangs, domestic violence, gentrification, and racial profiling.
Irene is the Training Program Director for Radio Arte 90.5fm Chicago, a bilingual public radio station and a radio disk jockey for La Kalle 103.1 and 93.5fm, a Spanish language commercial radio station. She has also produced a program on women’s affairs, entitled “La Femme” and supervised nine young girls between the ages of 15 and 21 in the production of this weekly program. Lastly, she has engineered the sound and lighting board and coordinated various theatrical performances during the nationally recognized Sor Juan Festival at the National Museum of Mexican Art, and facilitated a course focused on teaching 15 urban youth about the gentrifying of their community and produced an audio documentary about the experience.

Using Media, Fair Use and Copyright

Recently, when youth media educators learned about the legal victory of the music industry over the single mother from Minnesota ordered to pay more than $220,000 for sharing a mere 24 songs online, it only confirmed their suspicions that the copyright landscape is rapidly changing.
After learning of this court decision, Shay Taylor, a high school video production teacher from Montgomery County, Maryland expressed her fear, explaining, “I’ve got a stash of videotapes with copyrighted excerpts of TV shows, movies, advertising, news and music videos that I use all the time in my teaching. I wonder if they’re going to come after me some day.”
At a time when online digital technologies are enabling users to create and share an ever-widening array of multimedia texts, there is an increasing climate of fear among educators about the use of new resources for teaching and learning. The changing legal environment and high levels of copyright confusion surrounding digital media affect educators and their students in a variety of school, university and non-profit settings.
It is important that media literacy educators better understand their rights, since under the fair use provision of copyright law, they are entitled to use such materials in their work.
The Cost of Copyright Confusion
In K-12, higher education, and afterschool programs and workshops, educators face conflicting information about their rights, and their students’ rights, to use copyrighted material. They also confront complex, restrictive copyright policies in their own institutions and organizations. Although copyright law permits a wide range of uses of copyrighted material without permission or payment, educators today have no shared understanding of what constitutes acceptable fair use practice.
On September 25, 2007, Renee Hobbs of Temple University’s Media Education Lab, Pat Aufderheide of the Center for Social Media at American University and Peter Jaszi of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property in the American University Washington College of Law released The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy, a report funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. More than 60 educators, youth media professionals, librarians and college faculty were interviewed about their understanding of copyright and fair use as these concepts apply to their work.
This research revealed that, in order to deal with copyright restrictions, teachers may adopt one of several coping strategies: they may avoid sharing lesson plans, curriculum materials, or student productions; they may “hyper-comply,” by creating unnecessary copyright restrictions for students as a result of ignorance or fear; or they may blatantly ignore copyright all together, close the doors of their classroom, and do whatever they like. As Renee Hobbs pointed out, “Some of the fundamental goals of media literacy education—to cultivate critical thinking about media and its role in culture and society in order to strengthen creative communication skills—are compromised by lack of understanding about copyright law.”
Building Consensus about Fair Use
In the current phase of the project, Hobbs and her colleagues are attempting to create a shared understanding of fair use among media literacy and youth media educators by hosting small-group consensus-building meetings in cities across the country. So far, meetings have been held in Boston, New York and San Francisco.
The meetings brought together diverse groups of youth media educators, university faculty, and K-12 teachers. The discussions were led by Peter Jaszi of the Washington College of Law at American University, who is one of the country’s leading legal experts on copyright and fair use.
Fair use is the most important (and most misunderstood) tool in copyright law for educators, and many youth media educators and K-12 teachers are unfamiliar with the concept. It is intended to balance the rights of owners with the rights of users by encouraging the widespread use of cultural products. While most educators see copyright as primarily protecting the property rights of creative producers, in fact, the concept of fair use shows that users are entitled to borrow, quote, or make use of the creative work of others in developing their own ideas, with proper citation.
Unfortunately, educators often receive conservative copyright advice from lawyers who wish to minimize the potential for lawsuits. For example, one youth media curriculum developer at a major nonprofit organization described her experience of developing curriculum materials: “When we actually published the curriculum, our attorney said we could not provide people with material or suggest how they obtain it—we could not say ‘photocopy’ or ‘tape.’ I got around this by just saying ‘obtain.’ These restrictions made it difficult for us to be creative.” Limitations like this constrain the development of media literacy programs nationwide.
In each city, key themes emerged from meetings with media educators. In New York, educators questioned fair use and digital sharing. In Boston, the focus was more about getting copyright permission and in San Francisco, educators were curious how to balance the rights of owners and users.
New York, NY: What’s Fair about Digital Sharing?
It is no surprise that life in a digital world changes the way creative work is circulated. It is easier than ever for educators to copy and distribute the intellectual property of others, and in a meeting held at the Academy for Educational Development in New York City this fall, educators discussed “what’s fair” about such sharing. Participants discussed various hypothetical situations that elucidated points of consensus and disagreement among educators.
A discussion based on photocopying copyrighted materials immediately shifted to a conversation about scanning, digitizing and electronically distributing documents. There was confusion among educators regarding the acceptable scale of distribution regarding the educational use of copyrighted works. Several participants noted that various gatekeepers at their institutions prevented them from making copies—usually based on an arbitrary guideline or rule with no legal standing. Many agreed with one university administrator, who remarked that when it comes to using copyrighted materials for educational purposes, it is a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” culture.
Media literacy educators are highly aware of the changing economic models emerging in traditional mass media and new media industries. As organizations like The New York Times grapple with how to preserve their own economic interests in a digital world, youth media educators who rely on timely and current information find they cannot afford to wait for industries to finalize their business models. One youth media curriculum developer in New York City warned that media educators need to be careful about balancing creators’ interests with their own: “As educators, where do we draw the line? I don’t want to stifle media producers from producing.”
Music and popular culture are prime artifacts of the cultural environment and more and more students want to be able to use appropriation and remix techniques in creating their own work. However, there is great confusion over the role of music in youth media productions. “It’s a mash up world,” said one youth media educator, “but we are afraid of letting students get away with this, especially if they want their work seen in screenings and festivals.”
The fear surrounding the appropriation of popular music was disproportionately higher than fear concerning the use of video, photocopies or other forms of media— perhaps because the music industry has been aggressive in taking legal actions against unauthorized sampling and downloading.
Boston, MA: What’s Fair about Permissions?
When should media literacy and youth media educators get permission to quote from or use the copyrighted works of others? When is permission unnecessary? In a meeting at Wheelock College in Boston, hosted by Professor Petra Hesse, this issue was hotly debated. Participants argued over when it was appropriate to ask a copyright holder for permission to use his or her work.
Most youth media and media literacy educators agreed that when engaged in the practice of “comment and criticism,” permission is not needed. But one university professor eschewed the idea of asking permission to use copyrighted works in the classroom for any purpose, stating: “I feel entitled to use whatever I want to use in the classroom—it is my raw material, like numbers are a mathematician’s raw material.”
Many participants voiced concern about business models that allow for copyright holders to charge educators to access their works. According to one participant who worked with incarcerated youth, “I have a huge concern that if people have to start paying for access to info, it is going to leave a huge gap between people in advantaged and disadvantaged communities.” Others recognized that “producers have children who need to eat,” and a number of participants were sensitive to the function of copyright permissions as allowing authors to control their own creative work and profit from it.
San Francisco, CA: Balancing the Rights of Owners and Users
At a meeting of youth media and media literacy educators hosted by Just Think in San Francisco, participants worked to understand how to balance the rights and limitations of owners and users. As in New York and Boston, group members struggled with the limits of digital distribution and the emerging economic models of the media industry. Although most participants expressed distaste with the media industry’s attempts to charge educators for essential learning tools, one participant acknowledged: “It’s a double standard. I’m a filmmaker and I wouldn’t want teachers just ripping and burning my film and giving it away.”
Participants also debated the merits of licensing fees and whether it is reasonable to expect youth to ask copyright holders for permission—or even to cite the copyright holder in all circumstances. Because youth media and media literacy educators are such a diverse group, perspectives on fair use span a large spectrum. Many media educators, such as the San Francisco filmmaker, are also media producers and copyright holders—which adds another dimension to the discussion.
Although some points of interest are beginning to emerge from these meetings, media educators still have a way to go toward developing a shared consensus on fair use. In the meetings, which will occur in cities around the country over the next year, media literacy and youth media educators will offer their input on this valuable and timely issue.
Currently, many educators feel they can avoid this issue by freely using copyrighted materials in their own educational settings but refusing to share curriculum materials and student productions with wider audiences. However, it is in the long-term benefits of young people that educators adopt a consistent approach to teaching about and responding to fair use and copyright law.
Towards a Code of “Best Practices”
In fall 2008, the discussions of these meetings will help media literacy and youth media educators familiarize themselves with their rights under the fair use doctrine in a follow-up report. Youth media educators who work with documentary filmmaking already have an existing resource in terms of fair use: The Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use, which was created by Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, two of the authors of The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy.
Many youth media educators struggle with the balance of letting youth experiment freely with copyrighted materials versus training them to treat copyrighted materials exactly as a professional media producer would: going through the process of asking permissions, or relying on royalty-free images and music.
When students become media producers, they often want to make new and creative uses of existing copyrighted works in their own productions. They will also likely desire copyright protection for their own work.
Fair use, to some degree, allows for both: it was intended to balance the rights of the copyright holder with the rights of the user. Youth media educators do not need to live in fear and confusion when it comes to copyright—they need to educate themselves about fair use and reclaim the rights that already exist under copyright law. The next phases of The Cost of Copyright Confusion project intend to do just that.
Katie Donnelly is a research associate at Temple University’s Media Education Lab. She lives, works, and blogs in Philadelphia, PA. http://mediasmartphilly.com

Listening Across Borders: Creating Virtual Spaces for Youth Global Exchange

Photo by YouthLAB
As we transition into an increasingly global and technology dependant society, new participatory media networks have the potential to affect an international youth-led social justice movement. Because youth media programs are consistently at the forefront of technological innovation as well as the development of youth-centered educational practices, as a field, we are in a unique and exciting position to facilitate and incubate new youth-centered forms of global exchange.
However, there are few spaces where young people of different backgrounds and global perspectives can interact under conditions not mediated and controlled by adults—even in youth media. Innovative models that provide instruction on how such interactions can take place must be thoughtfully discussed, tried out, and shared among educators, which requires learning new pedagogical approaches.
As youth media educators, how can we create a different kind of pedagogical space where young people from around the globe can use the tools of participatory media (blogs, wikis, social networks, digital sharing sites, etc.) to connect politically and socially? How do we learn to “listen across borders”—the first step in creating a youth platform for global social justice?
These sets of questions inspired me to create YouthLAB, a program where youth are in charge, conceptualizing how to use participatory media as a springboard for youth leadership, activism and organizing.
About YouthLAB
YouthLAB, (Youth Listening Across Borders), an intensive two-week program, took place in summer 2007. Twenty young people from Barbados and Chicago came together in a virtual space to create global exchange using peer-to-peer networks and other tools of participatory media.
Each day during these two weeks, youth from Barbados and Chicago would meet physically in each of their respective locations but would also come together in a variety of wired worlds as well (such as online video chats, blog posts and comments, video letters, GoogleMaps, and Facebook).
Before the official start of the two-week exchange, a 16-year-old Chicago-based member of YouthLAB traveled with me to Barbados to provide computers, cameras, high-speed Internet service and skill training for eight young people at Mela Berger’s Caribbean Institute for Cultural and Healing Arts (CICHA). During that time, we shared knowledge on how to produce journalistic videos using iMovie and Final Cut Pro, shoot digital photographs, use social networking sites, and upload content to blogs and Google MyMaps.
Despite the high incidence of poverty on the island, the Bajan youth were digitally literate. Most youth access technology such as YouTube and satellite television regularly, although few had ever worked on Macintosh computers or software. While all the Bajan participants were black (as is 98% of the population), they were diverse in terms of socioeconomic status, schooling opportunities and the parish in which they each lived. In Chicago, the participants were comprised of 12 youth, 16-18 years of age (African-American, white, Latino, Muslim, and from a range of income levels).
Physical and Virtual Contact Zones
The diversity among the youth participants, within and across sites, is a critically important component of the YouthLAB model. As the work of Michelle Fine, Maria Elena Torres and others in the Participatory Action Research Collective have shown, “contact zones”—in which different cultures meet, clash and negotiate meaning—are not always neat and conflict-free. In fact, these messy spheres are necessary in order to create the kind of conversations that kindle democratic dialogue and richer forms of cross-cultural understanding.
Bringing youth into conversation about oppression and injustice both in physical and virtual spaces fosters critical consciousness. In such “zones,” new relationships form across previously uncomfortable differences. This is an area that is essential for educators to support if we are to “listen across borders” and help build global social justice movements by and for youth.
Pedagogical Approach
Part of YouthLAB’s mission is to provide a space where young creators and activists in Barbados and Chicago could engage in meaningful talk and listen and learn on their own terms, using their own tools and cultural forms of communication. The intrinsic properties of open source and Web 2.0 technologies are perfectly suited for this form of global learning.
While far from being naïve about the problematic aspects of social networking sites, most youth still perceive YouTube, social networks and other “affinity zones” (Henry Jenkins, MIT Comparative Media Studies) as having ample “street cred” precisely because of the way they exist outside the control of adult authorities and institutional gatekeepers.
In creating new spaces for young people to conceptualize their creative media & dialogue, I drew inspiration from the work of Harvard law professor, Yochai Benkler and his book, The Wealth of Networks, where he expands on the theory of “socially-motivated commons-based peer production.” Benkler describes a new public sphere, in which the creative flow of many people is galvanized into large-scale, participatory projects, but without the baggage of traditional hierarchies and profit motives. In other words, commons-based peer production supports many voices coming together to shape an idea or product.
Benkler identifies several defining features to commons-based, peer-to-peer production; however, in designing YouthLAB, we focused on the following:
Make the work “granular.” Everyone should contribute something of value that advances the overall cause.
Make the work modular. Divide the tasks into self-selected individual projects so that the work is divvyed up equitably and progress is clear.
Make the work capable of integration. Individual contributions can be assimilated efficiently into a meaningful and publicly shared final product.
YouthLAB put this theory of socially motivated, commons-based, peer production into pedagogical practice. All 20 participating youth joined together to create media and dialogue about racism, segregation, inequality, migration, and social justice through the collective authoring of a central multimedia blog.
For example, this cadre of teens co-created an interactive multimedia GoogleMap on migrations, which contained both personal and historical travel and migration routes, embedded geo-tagged photos, stories, and videos and placemarkers indicating past, present and future landmarks. In addition, teens raised and answered questions in the form of videos, online chats and blog posts for a global exchange.
YouthLAB developed a networked system that allowed youth to see themselves as contributors to a shared political discourse. Integrating collective intelligence into the participatory framework, youth became actors in a public global arena rather than passive recipients of mediated information.
Emerging Practices for Youth-Centered Global Exchange
1. Start with a leading, genuine question. For example, in YouthLAB our exchange was launched through a joint inquiry: “Does evidence of the legacy of slavery, injustice or inequality exist within in your everyday lives and communities today?” This leading question spurred research and dialogue and led to a new set of questions posed and pursued by youth participants.
2. Enter into “interpretive discussions” about youth-made videos. Several videos and clips were posted on the YouthLAB blog and youth participants engaged in “interpretive discussions,” analyzing the meaning of videotexts. For example, a fascinating exchange centered on the video, A Girl Like Me, where the teen filmmaker raises the question, “Why do so many of the Black children in the social experiment choose the white doll to play with?” The videotext can operate as a fulcrum for a shared discussion in which everyone contributes. In this way discussions can move beyond limited and non-interactive comments towards real exchange and communication. http://youthlab.net/category/interpretive-discussions/
3. Pose cross-cultural questions and responses through video. For example, the youth in Barbados produced a video asking a series of questions of their U.S. counterparts in Chicago and vice versa. Each YouthLAB team then created videos responding to these questions. The questions ranged from lighthearted, to social, political and educational. Some of the more complex topics incorporated research and street interviews, which teens posted onto YouTube or on the YouthLAB blog.
4. Use “skyping” and online chats to build intimacy. The immediacy and realness of these interactions through live video chats provide personalized exchanges and visceral experiences across borders.
5. Use online mixing and mashup tools for collective authorship. In YouthLAB, we created a split-screen video with images of Bridgetown Barbados on one side and Chicago on the other. We also began experimenting with a video online mixer tool housed on the video-sharing site, Motionbox. The possibilities for new forms of creative collaboration through digital content-sharing applications are endless.
6. Step back and give young people the lead. In YouthLAB, peer-to-peer teach-ins, collective intelligence-sharing, and co-construction of “tag clouds” through social bookmarking were important ways that youth participants not only created media products but shaped their own curriculum and instruction as well.
Key to this work is that youth media educators become “invisible” in the learning process—which is different from most of the training we received as educators. As youth interpret the meanings and questions their peers bring up, they bring their own perspectives, informed by a complex set of experiences, seen through the lens of race, class, privilege, gender, and nation. Young people in global exchanges hear challenging and different perspectives, which lead to new questions and understandings that can strengthen the social justice field.
The YouthLAB participants needed no persuasion to merge social activism with cultural production using digital networks. They did not need to be coaxed to talk about the issues affecting their lives with peers from a different country or prodded to sit down and watch media made by other youth. On the contrary, they couldn’t get enough of it. Clearly, youth with access to the tools of participatory culture experience new international and media-based sites as powerful and vibrant, fostering imagination, youth activism, and international exchange.
As an educator I was schooled in the methods of backwards-design; however, in a learning environment built around youth-led, commons-based, peer production, adult facilitators need to relinquish predictable outcomes in favor of a more elastic approach. We need a different type of pedagogical space—one where youth are in charge at the outset to use media as a springboard for leadership, activism and organizing. Using tools like commons-based peer production, interpretive discussion, and virtual contact zones, we can provide the types of environments for online global youth media to develop.
By creating these pedagogical spaces where hierarchies are flattened out but differences are not erased, youth media makers can provide a global example of dialogue by listening across borders.
Mindy Faber is an educator, curator, consultant and award-winning media artist. She is the Founding Director of Open Youth Networks and the designer of YouthLAB (Listening Across Borders). Faber lives in the Chicago area with her husband and 16-year-old son.

Media Savvy Arab Girls Respond to the Mainstream

Across the country, young media producers are creating works expressing their perspectives on and experiences of immigration, often directly combating negative portrayals put forth by mainstream sources.
For example, a radio documentary, “The Migration Project,” produced by KUOW (a Riverton, WY radio station) and Generation PRX (a project of the Public Radio Exchange to support, connect, and distribute youth-produced radio), focuses on issues of identity in the lives of young immigrants, while Global Action Project recently launched a video detailing the military recruitment of immigrant youth. Both these pieces challenge mainstream media narratives. But what happens to a youth media organization when directly attacked by a powerful media source not because they cover immigration, but because their own immigration status marks them as a “terrorist threat”?
Arab Women in the Arts and Media
This is precisely what happened to Arab Women in the Arts and Media (AWAAM), a community organization in Brooklyn, NY that offers media training to young women ages 14-18. AWAAM also makes the “Intifada NYC” shirts that received much media attention in fall 2007.
In brief, when New York Post reporter Chuck Bennett asked Deborah Almontaser, founder and then-principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (a new public middle school offering studies in Arabic and English), about the meaning of the word, intifada, Almontaser responded that the word’s Arabic root meant “shaking off” (The Post, August 9 2007, “City Principal is ‘Revolting’”). She acknowledged the word’s negative connotation, arising from its use in the Middle East, and explained: “I don’t believe the intention [of the shirt] is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City. I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society . . . and shaking off oppression.”
The Post then published a series of articles linking Almontaser to AWAAM, which was depicted as an extremist and Muslim organization (AWAAM is in fact a feminist, Arab American, but not necessarily Muslim, organization). The Post claimed that AWAAM was “hawking T-shirts that glorify Palestinian terror,” and accusations echoed across the right-wing blog-o-sphere. Although the only connection between Almontaser and AWAAM is that the (now) ex-principal (Almontaser resigned as principal of the school in August) is a board member of a Yemeni-American organization with which AWAAM shares space, with one loaded interview question, the Post was able to weave AWAAM into the web of anti-Arab/immigrant feeling mounting in the city in opposition to the Khalil Gibran Academy. Quite suddenly, the women of AWAAM found themselves the target of media attention.
Hostility Unmasked
The anti-immigrant feeling revealed by the confrontation with the Post was not news to the young women of AWAAM—indeed they encounter such attitudes daily. A radio piece that the teens produced a year before, entitled “The War At Home,” documents such encounters. In the documentary, one young woman discusses strangers’ prolonged gazes at her hijaab—the scarf worn by many Muslim women. Another recounts an incident on the subway where a woman threw her coffee on a group of Muslim high school students. Throughout the piece run the kind of comments these young women hear all the time: “Take that stupid rag off your head, you terrorist,” or “Go back to your country.”
The Post incident occurred at the end of AWAAM’s summer media program. Young women organizers had spent several months preparing to inaugurate the Brooklyn chapter of the Coalition for Muslim Holidays, a diverse initiative working to include Muslim holy days as official New York City Public School holidays. With the publication of the Post article, reporters began gathering outside the doors of the building where the summer media workshops took place to get the story on the organization that had made the “Intifada NYC” shirts.
In another context, it would have been a singular opportunity for showcasing youth work, but the environment was anything but a safe space. Spelled out by the Post and amplified by rightwing bloggers, anti-Arab sentiment was now aimed directly at AWAAM and its youth media constituency. When the organization’s website was hacked into, the threat became even more intense.
Safety and Expression
AWAAM Director Mona Eldahry was put in the difficult position of having to negotiate between the safety and free expression of the young women she served and “outing” them as producers on the website. After conferring with parents, colleagues, and the girls, she decided that the environment was too dangerous for the young women’s work to be published online. AWAAM removed the names of the young female producers from work on the organization’s website. In addition, an entire summer’s youth media work was not posted, and the screening to accompany the Muslim holidays coalition was cancelled. Says Eldahry, “I felt like it seriously handicapped us because our asset is the media youth produce.” The organization faced further challenges as educators had to shift their focus from programming and fund raising to coordinating press releases, participating in interviews, and monitoring the website.
In spite of the strain on the organization, the youth media-makers were resilient. They were enraged, according to Eldahry, but defiant. Their response was, “We cannot be silenced.” Taking action into their own hands, the young women of AWAAM did exactly what they had learned during the summer—they made a video, countering the attacks, documenting the truth, and reclaiming their voices. Manipulating the constraint of anonymity, they shot the video, entitled “Silenced by the Media,” without including their faces, resulting in chilling images of decapitated bodies and dissociated voices telling the truth about the scandal and Almontaser’s resignation.
Conclusion: Combating the Negative Images of the Mainstream Media
The spirited response of the young AWAAM women to the media’s uninformed and negative portrayals of their work is one encouraging example of how alternative media can and must respond to the mainstream news outlets.
Another example occurred at an October conference in New York entitled “Building Bridges: How African-Americans and Immigrants Can Create Social and Economic Justice Together,” where Hugh Hamilton, host of “Talk Back,” a noncommercial call-in radio show, discussed how mainstream media’s negative and false representations of African-Americans and immigrants reinforce stereotypes and foster fear, contributing tensions between the two groups who have many similar interests and face similar challenges. In response, an educator in the audience spoke passionately about the important role youth media could play in challenging those stereotypes and helping reframe the immigration debate, in particular.
With the 2008 presidential race gaining momentum and with immigration reform increasingly central to the campaign, there will no doubt be many opportunities in the coming year for youth media organizations to mount projects and campaigns to counter the mainstream media and present a more balanced view of this important issue.
Note: On October 15, 2007, Debbie Almontaser reapplied for the position of principal at Khalil Gibran International Academy. AWAAM is currently seeking mentors and space for their weekend media trainings this fall.
Grace Smith is interning as Assistant Editor at the Youth Media Reporter. Born and raised in Baltimore, Smith lives in Brooklyn where she makes queer performance art and tends chickens.
For more information:
Khalil Gibran International Academy
Islam and Media Stereotypes
The New York Immigration Coalition