Mapping the Youth Media Landscape of New York City
Problem Statement and Research Question:
Teenagers are described as knowing how to use media technologies better than their parents, but the mainstream news still does not often condone teenage use of new media technologies. There is a lack of trust. Youth are very rarely praised for telling stories that make a difference and more often publicly “called out” for spending too much time doing “useless” things with easily accessible media making tools. Articles and studies claim that high school student use of media inspires lack of physical activity, a distraction from schoolwork and a tool for cyber bullying. It is true; easy access does not necessarily mean productive media activity, but there are spaces in the urban sphere where young media makers are learning new skills to share stories and ideas effectively through media. It is a necessity for teenagers to show their urban community exactly what they are doing to create positive change with accessible and portable new media technologies.
This map will make the network of youth media making communities more publicly indelible as it works to trace the history of such organizations in New York City. What is the collaborative youth media making landscape in New York City? Where are the spaces outside of school and home where teenagers connect and have connected face-to-face to produce stories and create change using print, radio, television and film?
Relevance, Significance and Timeliness:
In New York City, teenagers have so many opportunities to use different mediums to tell their stories and the stories around them. Youth media making organizations teach high school students how to craft their stories and express their ideas for the public sphere. There are multiple youth media production spaces around the city, but no central location where they can collaborate and learn about each other; leading to stories and ideas in specific communities. The now commonplace use of portable media devices and online social media tools seem to provide high school students with platforms to tell stories collectively, but not collaboratively.
Additionally, the youth media field is relatively new and merits historic contemplation, yet research is quite scarce and limited to brief program descriptions and case studies with very few collections of media or lesson plans that could be used now as valuable tools for resource-sharing and program development. The historic component of this map will act as a tool for present-day youth media organizations to learn from the history of their field; ways in which youth voices were successfully or unsuccessfully broadcast to a public that has consistently doubted the merit of young voices in the urban sphere. Research for this map will begin with the 1967 use of the portapak to create films for Movie Bus and Film Club in the late 1960s up until the multimedia youth production geography of today.
The history of youth media making is also a history of how after school education has shaped teenage use of rapidly developing media technologies. Rather then exploring the media’s influence on teenagers, this history will explore how teenagers are influencing media. This history has the potential to further carve out and define epochs of responsibility in media making through identifying meaningful storytelling approaches through new technologies.
Geography of Youth Media – A Spatial Argumentation:
Youth media production is often thought about as either illicit or excessive; an exclusive, individual activity – sequestered to at-home or in-school use of mobile devices or en route posting of links to Facebook or Tumblr. The geography of youth media making deserves further inspection as it leaves out the settings in a city that facilitate collaboration between teenagers who are interested in a more active role in civic life. This map will include the locations that are left out – non-profit filmmaking organizations, zine collectives and grassroots radio organizations.
Additionally, the buzz word ‘networking’ is so important in the rising urban journalist’s lexicon, but where does it fit into a teenage media maker’s vocabulary? Beyond the public testament to youth media making prevalence in New York City, this map will have utility as an urban network for storytellers and producers. People with stories in neighborhoods around the city can connect with teen media makers to develop their stories. Youth producers can connect with each other, creating stronger stories and forming collective voice that inspires continued inter-group collaboration.
Furthermore, the importance of mapping youth media spaces in New York City could produce interesting data on neighborhoods with a deficit in media making resources for young people. For example, is there a concentration of organizations in one specific neighborhood and does this influence the type of media being produced?
- Video interviews with one teenager and one adult supervisor from each organization currently in existence. Some additional interviews from organizations that are no longer making media will also be important to collect.
- Relevant media (audio, video or print) about specific New York City-related issues and loacations as filmed, recorded or written about by students.
- Lesson plan scans or PDFs.
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