Youth Radio: Daughter of Coal Country Speaks to the Silence

April 12, 2010 · Filed Under commentary, environment, family, news, Uncategorized · Comments Off on Youth Radio: Daughter of Coal Country Speaks to the Silence 

The death of 29 coal miners in a West Virginia mine explosion has left many outside of the coal mining community struggling to understand its dangers and culture. One of the most moving pieces I have heard on the topic came from Youth Radio‘s Willa Johnson. She shared her struggle to fight the coal mining industry while simultaneously trying to maintain relationships with friends and family members who work in the mines.

Here’s a short sample:

“My grandfather has black lung and my dad has slipped a disk in his back. I have an older brother who I can’t talk to anymore; he still drives a coal truck and believes I have made him the enemy. Truthfully I can’t decide if he is the unsung victim or the unsung hero here in the mountains.”

Johnson’s piece aired on All Things Considered today, but you can hear the whole piece at or by clicking on the link below.

Click here to hear Willa Johnson’s commentary.

Another worthwhile piece is “Why We Still Mine Coal,” which aired on NPR last week. According to the report, the United States produced about 1 billion tons of coal last year and half of the country’s electricity is produced using coal.

Visit to hear “Why We Still Mine Coal.”

Youth Radio: Testing Out of High School

April 5, 2010 · Filed Under commentary, culture, education · Comments Off on Youth Radio: Testing Out of High School 

Youth Radio‘s Austin de Rubira is ready for college. Well, at least he says he is. Citing unchallenging, repetitive curriculum, de Rubira praised the implementation of an exam that would allow students to test out of high school as “college ready,” and start taking classes at community colleges.

You can read and listen to de Rubira’s full commentary at

And if you’d like to get a sense of who exactly would want to skip high school and go straight to college, take a look at de Rubira’s video on Coming Out of Conformity:

Youth Radio produced the video as part of the Youth Perspectives contest. We’re a bit biased, but we think de Rubira could handle just about anything.

Another Look at San Francisco Panorama

December 15, 2009 · Filed Under arts, Bay Area, commentary, culture, future of journalism, journalism · Comments Off on Another Look at San Francisco Panorama 

panorama-248x140By Linnaea Weld

When I think of preservation of the news media in written form, 300 plus gigantic pages of stories which seem (from what I have read so far) to be mainly in first person, is not the first thing that comes to mind. But never the less, San Francisco Panorama still appeals to this teenager who wakes up every morning and reads the paper.

The overall artsy style of San Francisco Panorama appealed to me. Articles about independent radio stations, two art sections, and handwritten reviews with foreign guitarists are all things that swayed me to pay sixteen dollars for a pound of paper. Other than the prominence of first person writing, the few problems I found were that some articles were simply too long, and after a week, I am still having trouble navigating my way through the paper. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there is an article about how to make the perfect bowl of ramen, but so far the most interesting thing I’ve found is a story about someone’s personal witch, Dori Midnight.
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A Youth Take on San Francisco Panorama

December 9, 2009 · Filed Under arts, Bay Area, commentary, culture, journalism, news, Uncategorized · Comments Off on A Youth Take on San Francisco Panorama 

panorama-248x140By Eric Gneckow

If you have ever tried to fit your Volkswagen into the refrigerator, then you know what it is like to carry home a copy of San Francisco Panorama. Many newborns weigh less than this newspaper, and finding a space for it in my backpack made me want to trade my journalism degree for an engineering one.

In fact, the act of portaging a newspaper has become decreasingly common for me since graduating this May. Amid the disordered and time-consuming lifestyle change from scholastic newsman to 23-year-old retail stooge, I visit my bank’s website more frequently than I peruse SF Gate.

Yet here was this nuclear bomb of a thing, San Francisco Panorama, the latest edition of Dave Eggers’ quarterly journal McSweeney’s. . . with two magazines spilling out of it and a wingspan to match its epic heaviness. But my awe quickly resolved into an urge to protect it. I would soon learn about its massive mix of graphics, investigative features and subtle humor, but right now I only knew that it was something very special. Only on the safe real estate of my living room floor would it again see the light of day.

What I uncovered after peeling back the first enormous page was a love story for knowledge and a call to arms for those who want to know. San Francisco Panorama is a celebration of news that plays out like a choose-your-own adventure, each path rich with the merits of print. It is the punch line to a long joke that reveals the reality of our modern media landscape: that podcasts, Twitter and YouTube are, as far as most news is concerned, profoundly annoying. Long live print.

“This,” I thought before pausing at a two-page color spread depicting the electromagnetic interactions of the Earth and Sun, “is the dangerous, heroic thing that can move a nation. This. . . is news!”
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Managing Money Isn’t Easy

November 16, 2009 · Filed Under commentary, culture, economy, Uncategorized · Comments Off on Managing Money Isn’t Easy 


By William Sprecher

I am going to be frank with you. I am not very good with money. It isn’t that I buy things that I don’t need, in fact quite the opposite. The holes in my shoes are a good enough indicator of that. Despite putting off some needed purchases, I still cannot keep track of the money that I have. There seems to be some disconnect between me and my checking account that my bank is all too willing to exploit in the form of hefty over-draft fees.

I still haven’t decided if that cup of coffee was worth $35 and while it was very good coffee, multiply that by a half dozen this year, and well, you get the idea. Lets just say I’ve sunk more than my fare share into this banking black hole but I’ll spare you my over-draft sermon.  Recently, I stumbled upon a website dedicated to teaching young people how to save. Despite the graffiti like headings, a few intimidatingly cool silhouettes, and an overall forced urban attitude, I do think What’s Up in Finance is a good resource. It offers information on how and when to choose a credit card, buying a car, and even has a financial careers section if you’re really keen on saving.
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The Slow Wheels of Change

November 2, 2009 · Filed Under commentary, culture, news, politics · Comments Off on The Slow Wheels of Change 


By Will Sprecher

As a Democrat and a political news addict, I am constantly rifling through all number of news stories about the happenings in Congress and the Obama administration. It’s a habit that’s been a bit discouraging lately due to the logjam that is health care overhaul. I am thrilled by the progress that has been made, but, my god, has it been slow coming. I try reminding myself that this stuff takes time but I had no idea it took this much time. I figured Obama would get elected, and boom, change. Done and done, Great Society achieved. But not quite.

The sluggish pace of progress has left me feeling like a child demanding attention. I want to scream, “Where’s my change? I want it now!” while banging my fists on my desk. Given that this week marks the anniversary of Obama’s election, you know every news station and pundit will rate Obama’s effectiveness thus far.  Some, like CBS, were critical 6-months in, citing the economic stimulus package and health care as proof of Obama’s broken promises. Fox News, recently added an  “Obama Change Index that uses a seemingly arbitrary scale of 0-700. Currently Obama rates  just over 370  on the index. But as fun as the Fox index might be to play with and as tempting as it might be to label Obama as the harbinger of false hope, we must remember the politics of progress are complicated.

I tend to forget this. Read more

Balloon Boy–A Lot of Hot Air

October 19, 2009 · Filed Under commentary, culture, news · Comments Off on Balloon Boy–A Lot of Hot Air 

34802171By William Sprecher

By now we have all heard about the infamous “Balloon Boy” story that seemingly consumed every major 24-hour news station for most of Thursday. As of this morning, it’s still topic of discussion on the front page of This story does an excellent job of capturing everything that I loathe about television news: the sensationalist, voyeuristic, and completely mindless nature of the entire medium. Even writing about the story makes me feel stupid.

What’s more, even AFTER the balloon had landed, it is STILL being discussed! This begs the question, why are we still talking about it?

The answer is pretty simple, and the balloon boy non-story makes it completely clear. What we are watching isn’t news at all, but entertainment. But event that doesn’t bother me. I, like everyone else, like entertaining television. I could even describe in detail what VH1’s Real Chance Of Love: Back in the Saddle is all about. I even think this balloon boy storyline is fairly entertaining. But what makes me want to kick in the front of my TV is that the story gets labeled as “news.” If you’re going to be an entertainment show, call it that! Be honest, please. Don’t lie to my face.

In the relentless pursuit of ratings and advertising dollars, the 24-hour news networks have done an excellent job convincing us they’re something they aren’t. News.



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