The Digital Natives project has come to an end. Our content production finished in May and now as the Digital Natives Coordinating Senior Editor, I’m taking care of final details and taking stock of all that the project achieved.
Digital Natives Coordinating Senior Editor is the longest job title I’ve ever had. Probably the only question I heard more often in the last 10 months than, “What’s a Digital Native?” was “You’re a coordinating senior whaa?”
Once I explained what a digital native is and the goals of the project, people were almost unanimously supportive. Just about everyone has an anecdote about generations accessing information differently. And just about everyone wants the news industry to adapt and stay afloat.
The Digital Natives project had many goals: to discover what happens when two media organizations with vastly different cultures collaborate, to experiment with content and platforms, and lastly, to bring a young, more digitally engaged audience to public broadcasting.
The project made inroads on many of its goals: we increased the number of youth voices on KQED radio and KQED.org. Together, Youth Radio and KQED experimented with using Twitter to tell stories. The project influenced KQED to begin using more video. Both organizations realized the power of Facebook to drive audience. Together, we learned how to shoot better video and take better photos. Our content appeared on YouTube and Huffington Post and was “liked” and commented on.
During the last ten months, I’ve been extremely impressed with the talent and energy of Youth Radio. I think every news organization would benefit from sitting in on their editorial meetings. I’ve also been impressed with my colleagues at KQED who have been very open to experimenting with new technologies and who are ready to embrace new ways of storytelling.
There’s a lot of negativity in the news media these days. I’m proud that Digital Natives was able to shed some light on how journalism can not only survive, but improve.
Digital Natives Senior Coordinating Editor
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.”
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.
KQED’s multiplatform science program, Quest, recently launched a new, web-only series called “Science on the SPOT” in conjunction with their latest television offerings. According to senior producer Craig Rosa, the web series aims to “drill down on one place, one science concept, one person, and see the science in action as it is happening, with the folks who make it happen. All with a style that gives a nod to our award-winning broadcast TV and radio stories, but with its own voice.” Here’s their first episode, Swimming with the Sharks:
Personally, I’d love to see the concept applied to some political coverage. Paging John Myers.
A group of sixth graders from the The San Francisco School appeared on Forum to discuss The San Francisco School Perspectives Project. As part of the project, students wrote Perspectives, modeled after the two-minute commentaries that air daily on KQED, on subjects as diverse as divorce, soccer and cliques. The students’ teacher, Ruth Corley, then sent the pieces to Perspectives editor Mark Trautwein who was impressed enough to publish all 31 pieces as web-exclusive Perspectives.
The San Francisco School Perspectives Project and the accompanying Forum episode are both examples of the rich content that results when youth are trusted to express themselves.
To listen to the San Francisco School Perspectives Project click here.
To see Ruth Corley’s lesson plans on using Perspectives in the classroom click here.
For more Perspectives by young people, visit the Youth Perspectives contest page.
The California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, launched its website today. One of the first blog posts examines financial aid for youth who have been a part of California’s foster care system.
The post cites a recent study by the Institute for College Access & Success that shows many foster youth procure far less aid than they are eligible to receive. According to the story, many roadblocks exist to foster youth receiving the aid, such as age limits which disqualify many of the youth by the time they enter a four-year college.
Read the full story at California Watch.org.
Christmas is looming, New Years’ plans are starting to take shape, and the best song, movie, and book of the decade lists are too numerous to count. Not to mention the fact that the Senate seems to be on its way to passing its version of the health care bill. It all makes the climate talks in Copenhagen seem like they happened so long ago. But the talks went on into weekend. World leaders stayed up all night Friday night trying to reach an agreement, and everyone else is still trying to sort out what it all means.
The hope was that the climate conference in Copenhagen would result in a legally binding agreement on the global response to climate change. That didn’t happen. There’s no legally binding agreement. President Obama worked with other world leaders to create a document, now being called the Copenhagen Accord, and other countries, officially, will “take note” of it. There are some good things in the document: developed nations will give $100 billion dollars to poor nations to help them weather the effects of climate change. Countries will work together to try to keep the world from warming more than two degrees Celsius. Money will go to countries that have historically profited from deforestation to help them preserve their forests. Countries will monitor their emissions.
While hundreds of protesters were arrested in Copenhagen last weekend, thousands of other people representing countries, research institutions, businesses, and non-government organizations (NGOs) went on talking and negotiating at the
United Nations climate conference. Delegates to the fifteenth Conference of Parties, or COP15 (it’s not an abbreviation for Copenhagen even though it looks like it could be) are trying to work out an international agreement on reducing and adapting to climate change. Balance is tough to find: many nations have not been able to meet the goals they signed on for with the Kyoto Protocol, which was the previous treaty signed in 1997.
So the negotiators are inside negotiating and the protesters are outside protesting, and there’s a lot of room in between for everyone else to get together and talk about tech innovations, new scientific findings, human rights, animal life, and just about anything else you can imagine. There are side events, kiosks, tents, panels, discussions, debates, and press conferences. And in the midst of Nobel laureates and seasoned professionals, there are young people presenting their views and their research.
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!”
Each week, KQED interns tackle a different word that is dominating headlines. The word for the first week in December was Afghanistan, with just about every show in our newsroom covering President Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to the country. Watch what the interns have to say. If your interest is piqued, listen to an episode of Forum that discusses Obama’s decision or The California Report’s story on reactions to news of a possible surge. There are also links to more resources below.
Forum discusses the troop surge:
The California Report talks to liberals about the likely troop surge:
Other articles, shows and resources to help you learn more about Afghanistan:
One positive offshoot of the slowdown in hard news during the holidays are the more creative, feature stories that make their way to the airwaves. My favorite so far this year is the Turkey Drop story that aired on All Things Considered this past weekend.
The story featured an interview with Washington University student Carly MacLeod, who wrote a column for her school newspaper about “turkey drops,” the break ups that plague so many college freshman who have tried and failed to keep their high school romances alive during the transition into college.
Romance and sex columnist Dan Savage was also tapped to give his insight into why a Thanksgiving drop is your last hope for romantic freedom before the onslaught of the Christmas, New Year and Valentine holidays.