KQED Launches Above the Noise, a New YouTube Series that Empowers Teens with the Facts Behind Real-World Issues that Affect Their Lives
San Francisco, CA — KQED announces the launch of Above the Noise, a new YouTube series for teens premiering on March 1 that cuts through the hype and dives deep into the science behind the issues affecting their daily lives. The series has two dynamic young hosts: journalists Myles Bess and Shirin Ghaffary. Together, they take a closer look at topics that are often sensationalized or distorted in the media, examining the latest research to inspire young viewers to draw informed conclusions, strengthen their media literacy skills and activate interest in civic engagement.
“In this new era of fake news and ‘alternative facts,’ I want to provide my peers with another perspective that will enable them to look beyond the surface level of what they’ve seen in their social feeds or have been told,” says Myles.
The series launches with two episodes — one about how to identify signs of misleading science reporting and another exploring the relationships between social status and health (Video preview links embargoed until March 1). In the coming months, new videos will examine wide-ranging questions such as: whether energy drinks should be banned for kids and teens; if there are health benefits to marijuana; how data impacts racial bias in the criminal justice system; and whether social media platforms like Snapchat influence mood. Each 4-5 minute episode incorporates animation, music, news and archival footage to analyze multiple perspectives, grab young viewers’ attention and to make complex subject matters relatable and relevant to teens’ every day experience.
Engagement with the audience is core to the series. Every other week, Bess and Ghaffary appear in a more casual talk show-like format to reflect on the previous week’s episode. They share their personal feelings and experiences with the issues, address viewers’ comments and questions, and encourage teens to contribute their own story ideas. “We want to develop a relationship with our audience,” says Annelise Wunderlich, Above the Noise series producer. “The goal of these episodes is to give us a deeper understanding of viewers’ needs and concerns, and to give teens a sense of ownership over the series.”
The series draws from KQED’s expertise as a public media organization dedicated to investigating scientific and news topics with the highest journalistic standards. Above the Noise leverages KQED editorial staff, connections with outside journalists, top research institutions, and youth media in the Bay Area. The series also incorporates feedback from a youth advisory panel of 13 Bay Area teens from diverse backgrounds. “With Above the Noise we aspire to engage with youth directly about the issues that are affecting them,” says Robin Mencher, Executive Director, KQED Learning. “We want to encourage youth to develop their ability to understand and use the power of facts and the research behind them, and challenge their own assumptions about whatever might be happening in the news, social media, and their own lives.”
Shirin echoes those aspirations: “I hope viewers will learn something new with every episode. And over time, learn how to use a scientific approach to make an informed argument about complicated topics that come up in the news every day.”
Above the Noise is a production of KQED’s education unit, KQED Learning, which provides educators and young people free content, cutting-edge tools, and activities that promote civic engagement, creative expression and problem-solving in the classroom using digital media. “KQED Learning has steadily developed a reputation among educators as a go-to resource for finding tools for teaching media literacy and personal connections to learning,” says David Markus, Executive in Charge, KQED Arts, Food, and Education. “Above the Noise will be a powerful tool for teachers and students in the classroom and beyond.”
To subscribe to Above the Noise and start watching, visit youtube.com/abovethenoise.
About the Hosts
Myles Bess is an aspiring filmmaker and writer from Oakland, California. Prior to joining KQED he worked for Youth Radio in Oakland where he reported on juvenile justice, education, and community organizing issues. His stories have appeared on National Public Radio, Marketplace and the San Francisco Chronicle. Currently a student at San Francisco State University studying broadcast and electronic communication, Bess looks forward to expanding his knowledge and understanding of multimedia while tackling issues that hit close to home.
Shirin Ghaffary is a freelance journalist and recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in English and International Economics. As a student, Ghaffary ran the news desk of the Daily Californian. She has also interned and worked for a number of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch. In addition to her journalistic pursuits, she presently works for a software startup, and is especially excited about topics that relate to tech.
Executive Producer, Annelise Wunderlich
Producers, Derek Lartaud and Lauren Farrar
S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
David Bulfer and Kelly Pope
Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation
The Koret Foundation
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Smart Family Foundation
The Vadasz Family Foundation
About KQED Learning
KQED Learning provides educators and young people multimedia content, experiential activities, and professional tools to create learning environments of the 21st century by promoting civic engagement, creative expression, and problem solving using digital media.
KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. An NPR and PBS affiliate based in San Francisco, KQED is home to one of the most listened-to public radio stations in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program helping students and educators thrive in 21st-century classrooms. A trusted news source and leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas.