Sunday, 29 August 2010

[creative-radio] Audacious and awesome new book about Youth Radio


RT @creative_radio: RT @NFCB: Audacious and awesome new book about Youth
Radio, our neighbors here in #Oakland! Recommended read!

[excerpt, see embedded links at url]

Anyone who wants to launch or sustain a media project that engages young
people and amplifies their voices should read Drop That Knowledge, a new
book about Youth Radio written by Elisabeth Soep and Vivian Chavez. Lissa
Soep is a longtime Youth Radio staff member who has developed the
program's training framework and curricula. Vivian Chavez is a alumna of
Youth News, a forerunner to Youth Radio.

Youth Media International, as it is currently re-branding, is one of the
oldest and most successful youth media programs in the country. It's a
public media treasure. As founder Ellin O'Leary writes in the epilogue,
"Our mandate is to prepare young people to maintain and reinvent
journalism's best principles, so that they can deploy today's new tools
and platforms to speak truth to power, to cultivate credible soures, to
tell the story no one else is telling, and to create art and report on
emerging trends and culture."

At Youth Radio, adolescents, teens and young adults get the basics of
media production and much, much more: media literacy, leadership training,
critical thinking, group process, negotiation, peacemaking. They learn by
listening but mostly by doing. Once they develop their wings, some of
these producers soar, experimenting with nontraditional storytelling
techniques and providing fresh perspectives on issues that hit closest to
home: public education, neighborhood violence, teenage pregnancy, racial,
gender, national and sexual identity.

Drop That Knowledge explains the guiding philosophy of Youth Radio - the
model of "converged literacy" which is defined as "an ability to make and
understand boundary-crossing and convention breaking texts...knowing how
to draw and leverage public interest in the stories you want to
tell...[having the] imaginative resources to claim and exercise your right
to use media to promote justice." At Youth Radio, young people are
respected as the experts of their own experience, who not only find their
voice, but are empowered to use it responsibly, meaningfully, and

I'm a longtime admirer of Youth Radio. I worked with some of its reporters
when I produced national news at Pacifica, and I visited the group's
Oakland headquarters for the first time earlier this year. Even so, I must
admit that I learned so much in the 200-plus pages of this book that I
didn't already know.

It's fascinating to read between the lines of some of Youth Radio's most
visible and successful stories that aired on NPR and PRI. How did these
pieces come together; what was the role of the reporter versus the editor;
how did youth and adults collaborate; what kind of dynamic ensued as harsh
truths are shared, or stereotypes are reinforced or debunked in a 4-minute
audio essay that would carry the burden of being The Voice of Youth on a
particular issue.

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