Youth Radio’s production company has been busy with a new project: prepping to launch a youth-generated broadcast/web stream and curriculum called “What’s the New What.” The stream glimpses the future of youth culture and its ripple effects across politics, identity, industry, and education.
Failure is the New Success. Blog is the New Bathroom Wall. Profit is the New Non-Profit. Tech Toys are the New Textbooks. Young people will use provocations like these to generate media content (audio, video, graphic, text) that connects high and low, hopeful and troubling, transforming the way the public engages young citizens.
Youth Radio will develop What’s the New What by integrating electronic mechanisms (e.g., solicitations, uploads, ratings, comments) with human editorial oversight by youth curators.
We’re also planning to develop free, online curriculum resources linked to What’s the New What segments. The really exciting part of that project is, the curriculum will be co-created by young producers and veteran designers with participation from Youth Radio’s international teachers’ network and their thousands of students.
That’s the model we’re increasingly using in our Teach Youth Radio project, bringing the curriculum design process into alignment with our media production model, meaning young people themselves drive the vision and execution, in collaboration with adult professionals. Check out the latest Teach Youth Radio News Break, about Jena Six, produced by Youth Radio/UC Berkeley’s Dawn Williams, Ayesha Walker from Youth Radio’s web team, and Kai Crowder, Shantel Alicea, Cory Butler-Wilson and Akira Chin–all students from the hip-hop journalism class at B-Tech, Berkeley Unified School District’s continuation high school.
The nation cares about teenagers again. What’s more, we’re focusing for once on what young people know and can do—and on implications of their digital experiments for everything from learning environments to investment strategies.
And yet, young people are still constrained to narrow roles: savvy socializers, expert players, embodiments of authenticity. Missing from this line-up are enterprising young producers and curators of meaningful content as well as creators of transformative learning experiences. While young people can buy ten-dollar digital video cameras at the corner store, that access hardly translates into enduring roles as full participants in digital culture.
Through What’s the New What, young people otherwise marginalized from “digital privilege” emerge as media connoisseurs, prepared to find, co-create, and disseminate top-quality youth-made content. In so doing, they:
1. Cultivate the public’s appetite for substantive storytelling with an edge,
2. Shape learning experiences for other young people by co-designing online curricula, and
3. Develop entrepreneurship models that inform practice and ethics across the digital media field.
Any young people, or adults who work with them, interested in contributing to the series–the content stream or the curriculum–let me know. What’s your new what?